Thank you to Hannah at Lee & Low books for providing me with a copy of this book!
Author: Zetta Elliott
Illustrator: Shadra Strickland
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
About the Book: Young Mehkai, better known as Bird, loves to draw. With drawings, he can erase the things that don’t turn out right. In real life, problems aren’t so easily fixed.
As Bird struggles to understand the death of his beloved grandfather and his older brogher’s durg addiction, he escapes into his art. Drawing is an outlet for Bird’s emotions and imagination, and provides a path to making sense of his world. In time, with the help of his grandfather’s friend, Bird finds his own special somethin’ and wings to fly.
My Review: This is a book for young children that deals with heavy issues. We don’t usually find books like this that so openly deal with issues like drug use and death, even though they are issues that today’s young children face. I am glad that Lee & Low chose to take a risk and publish this one. It carries the seal of the New Voices Award *Honor* from Lee & Low. I shared this book with a group of 4th graders. They enjoyed the story. I’m not sure that they fully got the message, but we did discuss the fact that the older brother was “sick” because of the drugs. The students that I shared this with could not relate to Bird in any other way than that he is African American, like they are. However, I do know many students that would be able to relate in other ways. I am glad to have found a publisher that chooses to publis books with multi-cultural characters because there are not enough of them being used in schools. Children need to see characters like themselves, and I applaud Lee & Low for finding these books. I love how this story is told from a child’s perspective, with real feelings. I also enjoyed the fact that Bird used art as an outlet for what he was going through. There are many children who do this, and they need to see that it is okay and be able to share that with others. I think that parents and teachers should share this title with their children. Drug abuse and death is something that we all have to deal with; we should not hide it from even our young readers.
More info about the book:
Published: October 2008
Read an interview with the author.
Click here to see a book trailer for Bird.
Check out this great podcast review of Bird by Just One More Book!