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4.8 7
by Angela Johnson

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Devastated by the loss of a second father, thirteen-year-old Bird follows her stepfather from Cleveland to Alabama in hopes of convincing him to come home, and along the way helps two boys cope with their difficulties.


Devastated by the loss of a second father, thirteen-year-old Bird follows her stepfather from Cleveland to Alabama in hopes of convincing him to come home, and along the way helps two boys cope with their difficulties.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
PW called this tale of 13-year-old Bird and two boys connected by a single heart (her stepfather's nephew, recipient of a heart transplant, and the boy whose brother was the donor) "a quiet, affecting story." Ages 10-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Bird lives inside the "Farm House People's" shed in Acorn, Alabama. Ethan sees her from his window, dancing in the moonlight. Ethan wants to dance with the "Shed Girl," but that would mean leaving the room in which he has spent his whole life, waiting for his new heart. Jay wonders how the runaway girl he met at the pond got him to say the words, "My brother is dead," when he cannot even bring himself to clean Derek's side of the room, especially because his mother has already removed all other memories of Derek from the house. Jay wonders if Derek lives on in some way, if maybe the boy he sees at church every week likes peanut butter too, just like Derek did. Bird is a girl in search of the only father she has ever known, who left without saying goodbye. And while waiting for him in his hometown, she unknowingly heals the broken hearts of those she meets-and her own. Using three voices, Johnson shows the depth to which suffering, loss, and change affect three young people. With almost audible emotion, her narration feels like theater, especially when Bird speaks. Her voice is rich, mature, and touching. Bird's warmth is subtle, and without ever revealing her own reasons for being there, she becomes the security blanket that the other characters need. As with Johnson's other novels, this book is tightly written with every word flowing into the next. Johnson balances extremely conflicting feelings affecting all three characters with the resolution that life goes on. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2004, Dial, 144p., Ages 11 to 15.
In such novels as Heaven and Songs of Faith, Angela Johnson has created a store of poignant characters with spare, poetic narratives. Bird is another novel filled with three such poignant characters. Although Bird is the title character, she is one of three narrators, each moving the story forward by picking up where the other leaves off and each bringing the facts and experiences of lives the others know nothing about. Bird is a runaway from Cleveland who has followed after the stepfather who abandoned her family, hoping to reunite with him and reunite the family she idealizes. She takes shelter in the shed of an Alabama farm family, sneaking into their house for food and baths. The family's son, Ethan, is recovering from a critical illness. He and Bird meet and maintain a loose and playful friendship as he explores his new health and regains his strength. The third narrator is Jay, a troubled kid from a family that has recently lost a son. Jay meets Bird after covering her in Alabama red dirt. He too develops a friendship with Bird as he comes to terms with the death of his brother and his own delinquent behavior. There are two significant adults who loosely connect the three teens to each other: Bird's stepfather, Cecil, a long-distance runner (in more ways than one); and a compassionate, wise widow, Mrs. Pritchard, who understands loss and healing. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2004, Penguin, Dial Books, 144p., Ages 12 to 15.
—Janis Flint-Ferguson
Children's Literature
This challenging but heart-warming story of a young girl's search for identity reveals the interconnectedness of four seemingly unrelated families. Written in an empathetic style that reveals the often convoluted thoughts and feelings of young teens, the story follows 14-year-old Bird's search for her recently departed stepfather. Bird is crushed by his sudden, unexplained departure and decides to set out to find him. The journey takes her from her home in Cleveland, Ohio to a small town in Alabama, where her stepfather, Cecil, grew up. Bird hides out in the barn of a family whose son, Ethan, not only befriends Bird and has a story of his own to tell, but whose beloved uncle turns out to be Cecil, the missing stepfather. The story becomes complex as other characters, seemingly unrelated to Bird's adventure, are revealed. There is Jay's family whose brother's recent death has provided a new heart for Ethan's ailing brother, plus there's old Mrs. Pritchard, whom Bird ends up living with for a while, but also has a direct connection to Jay's story. Through it all, the author's poetic text reveals the complexity of the process of growing up and coming to peace with who you are. Descriptions of everyday life in a small Southern town are vivid and satisfying, adding to the intimacy of the story. 2004, Dial Books, Ages 12 to 15.
—Meredith Kiger, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-An open-ended, interconnected narrative in three voices. Bird, 13, has run away from Cleveland to rural Alabama, trying to find her stepfather, Cecil, and bring him home. Ethan, who turns out to be Cecil's nephew, is adjusting to the freedom that a heart transplant affords him. Jay is grieving for his brother, whose death provided the necessary heart. Bird hides out in a shed on Ethan's family's farm, convinced that Cecil will come because she'd seen Ethan in the man's photographs. She soon gets lonely. Conveniently, Ethan, who has been socially isolated by his illness, is anxious to befriend her. Jay knows about Ethan, but cannot bring himself to approach the younger boy. Persuaded by his best friend to "borrow" an elderly neighbor's car, Jay winds up under house arrest, but sneaks out and encounters Bird himself. The owner of the stolen car, Mrs. Pritchard, offers Bird refuge at her house, providing her comfort through good food and a patient, nonjudgmental ear. Johnson reveals the inner thoughts of these characters, as they move around one another, occasionally touching, but preoccupied with their individual problems. Readers see how small kindnesses can ease the grip of grief and how large gestures-the literal giving of a heart-can redound to the giver's credit. Much is left unresolved by the conclusion of the book, but the many truths about human emotion and interaction are exposed for readers' examination.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Bird confronts friendship, family, and human limitations in this poignant tale. Thirteen-year-old Bird has run away from her Ohio home to search for her vanished stepfather. Hiding in a shed in Acorn, Alabama, Bird dances by moonlight and tries not to be too lonely. She can't help but get involved with the people she meets: Ethan, a boy whose life was saved by a heart transplant; Jay, whose brother died suddenly; and old Mrs. Pritchard, who used to bake peach cobbler before she lost her husband. Bird covetously observes the happy families of Acorn, but doesn't see that everyone has grief and tragedies to bear. Told through the alternating voices of Bird, Jay, and Ethan, this moving journey follows four lonely people as they touch each other's lives. A lovely and sad glimpse of individuals caring for one another in an imperfect world. (Fiction. 10-13)

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.46(w) x 7.32(h) x 0.68(d)
710L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Angela Johnson is the author of numerous books for children and young adults. She has won three Coretta Scott King Awards for her novels HeavenToning the Sweep, and The First Part Last, the Michael L. Printz Award for The First Part Last, and a Coretta Scott King Honor for her picture book When I Am Old with You. In recognition of her outstanding talent, Angela was named a 2003 MacArthur Fellow. She lives in Kent, Ohio.

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Bird 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book it is very good to read i really do like it come out with another part of it
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book might have been the best book I have Read. This book had sad moments and happy moments. This book is an example of why Kids love to read and why I love to read. This book tell more that just about a girl running away from home it also says the if you love something and it falls out your hands that you should run after it even if it is a long way away.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i think this was a really good book it only took me 2 days to read
Guest More than 1 year ago
Oh! my god this book was the best thing that i ever had read i'm thinking about reading it again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bird was one of the best books I have ever read!! I seriously recomend that you read it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that Bird was an outstanding book and was perfectly written. I also liked the way she told each one's seperate story. I have no negative remarks for this book. Although, I would have put more at the ending to tell more. Like what happened to Jay and the other boy (forgot his name for the moment) and if Bird successfully united with her mother.