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Swordbird Hardcover – January 30, 2007

3.7 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Yi Fan's tightly woven story delivers a manifest message promoting peace and freedom. Starring woodland bird characters, the saga pits the tyrannical hawk Turnatt, captor of "slavebirds" whom he shackles and puts to work building his fortress, against the cardinals and blue jays. Though once friendly, these two benign flocks are now at war: Turnatt's soldiers have stolen eggs and food from each flock (the hawk eats a purloined egg daily, believing this will "keep death away"), and have led each camp to believe the other is responsible for the thefts. One of the slavebirds, a robin named Miltin, escapes to tell Aska, a brave young jay, about Turnatt's evil doings and his plan to enslave all the local woodbirds. Blue jays and cardinals join forces to vanquish the despot, a mission that entails several diverting twists, including a search for the necessary elements to summon the Swordbird, the "mystical white bird, the son of the Great Spirit." The author occasionally relieves the tale's ample tension with snippets of humor. While feasting with a traveling troupe of winged thespians, for instance, the cardinals and blue jays drive away Turnatt's marauding forces by bombarding them with bean soup and raspberry pies. Experienced readers will recognize the familiar allegory here, but the book will likely appeal to Redwall fans, and this young writer is worth watching. Ages 8-12. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Grade 4–6—The Stone-Run Country is in peril. The blue jays' Bluewingle tribe and their former friends, the cardinals of the Sunrise tribe, have gone to war. Each side believes the other to have stolen its food and eggs, little suspecting the malicious hawk, Turnatt, along with his hoard of crows and ravens. Now he is intent on forcing all of the local woodbirds to work on his magnificent fortress, and it's up to a variety of brave avians to upset the villain's plans. Their only hope lies in summoning the great warrior, Swordbird, to assist them in their time of need. Fan wrote the book when she was 11 as a response to a world at war; it goes without saying that she is very talented. However, the book essentially reuses old tropes in a new setting, making the plot, pacing, and characters more than a little predictable and, for all of its charms, the story is overly familiar. Dialogue runs to the clunky with lines like, "I'll get you, me and my crew will" and "You'll pay for that, scalawag!" The greatest credit should be given to the illustrator, who took the author's imagery and made it believable as well as attractive.—Elizabeth Bird, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 760L (What's this?)
  • Series: Swordbird
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (February 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061130990
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061130991
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,657,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. C. Hall on May 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
First off, even though I am an adult (or as close to one as I'll ever be), I read a great deal of children's fiction and enjoy reading it, so I'm not necessarily looking for the same type of depth and complexity that an average adult would expect from fiction.

That said, I had to force myself to finish reading this one; it kept losing my interest no matter how often I came back to it. With so many people at the publisher apparently involved in this book, I'm surprised that no one was able to help the author smooth out the dialogue, for one thing. As much as I wanted to like the characters, they felt like Redwall extras, and I'm sorry to say that I never really found myself caring what happened to them. The story's style and structure also felt like Redwall retreads.

I can understand that allowances have to be made for young authors, and this author is, of course, highly gifted for her age. But the fact remains that, if it were not for the "hook" of the author's age, I don't think this book would have gotten published, especially not by a major publisher, and if you're going to read the book solely for its own merits, you'll wind up being disappointed. (I can see, however, that it would be a great inspiration to other young writers.)

The one thing I really loved about this book were the detailed pencil illustrations of the birds -- remarkably realistic and yet with their own personalities. I wish they hadn't started repeating, though; I would have liked to see more.

Overall, I'm looking forward to seeing what this author will do in several more years, as her skills catch up with her talent.
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A Kid's Review on December 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was quite surprised when I read an article in a magazine about this book that was being released soon, and was written by a 12 year-old author. Next time I was at the bookstore, I picked up a copy, eager to see how well people around my age could write, and get published. As soon as I began to read, I noticed that the book didn't flow quite as smoothly as good a book should. Unlike most books of the same genre that I've read, Swordbird was almost difficult to continue reading due to a cliche plot and cast of characters. I was continually reminded of the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, with the great banquets of food, the evil tyrant constructing a fortress, and the peace-loving protagonists. Swordbird even mentions a tapestry of the great warrior, Swordbird, just like Redwall's tapestry of Martin the Warrior. And while Swordbird did contain some vivid sensory descriptions, they appeared infrequently. The plot of the story itself was not extremely complex or deep in meaning. Parts of the book were also akward and even childish and didn't quite fit in with the rest. I do congratulate this young author on her determination and persistence in writing the book and having it published, but it fell short of my expectations.
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Format: Paperback
Yes, yes, I completely agree this book is a complete ripoff of the Redwall series, which is also marked by easily identifiable villains sometimes annoyingly so. The dialogue and the descriptions in this book or very poorly done, needs a lot more editing. I can promise you that second book is equally disappointing and not worth picking up. I also agree that if it wasn't for the authors young age, she never would have gotten this published. Below industry standards in terms of the story and the dialogue and character development. The people at the publishing house should have known that they were going in too deep by allowing her to even consider writing a sequel to the book. When I found out there was a third book I just wanted to smack my head with a newspaper. someone clearly got caught in a contract that they cannot escape or someone must be out of their mind.

if you want something similar but better written than try reading Redwall but know that I also do not like that series. but kids, if you want to learn how to write better check out some actual books about the publishing industry, do not follow this example. what angers me the most is she's feeding these kids dreams, but her writing is below industry standards. I blame the publishers and not this clever young woman. the most important thing not to copy from Nancy's example is to create simple villains. The villains are often the most complicated characters within a story, and they should be kept that way.if you are to read the second book you will also find that the villains are also infuriating and that they are simple and completely evil.no, no, no, no, and NO!

I apologize if my grammar or punctuation is off. I am using speech to text software.
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A Kid's Review on August 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
After my friend told me about this book (we're both the author's age), I was very excited to find a book that was written by someone who understands what the age group is like. Boy, were we in for a disappointment.
People all say "oh, this is a wonderful book for children!" but all the inaccuracies and predictable plotlines got annoying. It also didn't help that the book was like a spin-off from the Redwall series. Sorry, but the only good thing in it were the illustrations. Maybe there is a reason why most authors are adults.
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