Bird Child

Bird Child

by Nan Forler, Francois Thisdale
     
 

Bullying and the ability to rise above it are at the heart of this strikingly beautiful picture book. All school-aged children have either bullied, been bullied, or witnessed bullying, and all too often, they feel powerless to stop what has been set in motion.

Such is not the case with Eliza. Her mother has given her “wings to fly” and the ability to

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Overview

Bullying and the ability to rise above it are at the heart of this strikingly beautiful picture book. All school-aged children have either bullied, been bullied, or witnessed bullying, and all too often, they feel powerless to stop what has been set in motion.

Such is not the case with Eliza. Her mother has given her “wings to fly” and the ability to see all the possibilities that lie before her. So, when bullies pick on the new student, Lainey, gradually robbing her of her smile and ability to paint beautiful pictures, Eliza wants to help, and she does, by finding a way to show Lainey all that she can be. Then in the schoolyard, Eliza stands up to the bullies. One by one, the other children add their voices, and soon the bullies have skulked away.

Lyrical and eloquent yet realistic and down to earth, Nan Forler’s text is complemented beautifully with François Thisdale’s haunting images. This is a book for every child, every classroom, and every library.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Magical and ethereal do not typically describe tales of bullying, but this lyrical combination of realism and fantasy defies expectation. … This is a beautiful book with a somber tone, buoyed by Eliza and Lainey’s triumph in imagining possibilities. They do not fight the bully, but defy him by becoming friends.”
— School Library Journal

“… As a thematic book dealing with the issue of bullying, this story excels. It is not preachy or didactic.... Word choices approach the finely tuned standard of poetry…. Highly recommended.”
— Excellent, Resource Links

“Forler’s first published work is lyrically written and conveys an astute awareness of children and bullying. Thisdale’s eerie images … are perfectly suited to the text’s magic realism and are sure to draw young readers into the story. A thoughtful choice for one-on-one sharing…” 
— Booklist

“François Thisdale’s illustrations are feast of pure visual delight…. Bird Child stirs the soul, is a joy to experience, and presents a bold hopeful ray of light to children experiencing bullying.”
 Highly Recommended, CM Magazine

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
A tiny girl named Eliza has a special talent: she can fly. From the time she was a baby, she and her mother have flown "through dreams and love." When her days at school are not so great, her mother reminds her to "look down and see what is. Now, look up and see what can be." When a new girl named Lainey arrives at school, the other children tease her. Eliza watches the color and joy fade from the beautiful pictures Lainey makes. Eliza is upset when a boy takes Lainey's hat and smashes snow in her face, but does not know what to do. Her mother tells her that Lainey needs "someone to help her fly." Eliza takes Lainey up into the sky, telling her to look up and down. The next day, when the boy takes Lainey's hat, Eliza finds her "wings." She demands the hat back. Other children join her. Together Eliza and Lainey then build "a snow castle that reached the sky." Thidale's visuals combine multi-textured mixed media with photographic faces of the appealing characters forming arresting digital imagery. The resulting magical illustrations provide the psychological backbone to this tale of youthful friendship and confrontation with bullies. It may be difficult for youngsters to draw the line between the flying in the story (is it real?) and the possible symbolic meaning of Eliza's mother's advice. Perhaps the moral is clear without it. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—Magical and ethereal do not typically describe tales of bullying, but this lyrical combination of realism and fantasy defies expectation. Eliza is upset about the way other children treat Lainey, but she is afraid to stand up to the boy who particularly delights in tormenting her. Eliza is a "tiny girl with wobbly arms and legs, all skin and bones like a newly hatched bird." From the time she was a baby, her mother would tell her, "Look down and see what is….Now, look up and see what can be." The text says that Eliza can fly, and the illustrations depict her and Lainey looking down at the town. But can she really fly? Readers can decide whether to interpret the story literally or figuratively. The emotion of the tale is reflected in the dramatic, mixed-media illustrations. Each spread has a background of saturated color framed by a soft black border, suggesting vignettes or memories rather than a straightforward narrative, and childlike outline drawings are scattered across the pages. The girls' faces are photo-realistic with painted hair and clothes, resulting in a doll-like effect. The complex images and constantly shifting visual perspective perfectly match the ambiguous nature of the text. This is a beautiful book with a somber tone, buoyed by Eliza and Lainey's triumph in imagining possibilities. They do not fight the bully, but defy him by becoming friends.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Eliza learns a powerful truth from her mother, which she draws on when a classmate is victimized. "Look down and see what is. Now, look up and see what can be." Silently, Eliza observes new-girl Lainey's ostracism due to her unusual appearance, watching as the bullying increases, refraining from intervention when Lainey is brutally pushed in the snow. The authentic voice portrays bullying's devastating impact. "Lainey did not cry and she did not smile. It was as though the others had taken what was inside her and buried it along with her hat." In a hopeful sequence, Eliza's mother gently guides her daughter to a moral decision. The symbolism of flight is woven through the narrative. Thisdale's vibrant mixed-media art plays with dominance and size in its compositions; drawings, paintings and digital images add layers of context. Children's faces appear hazily behind layered backdrops, providing a recognizable face for bullies' victims. This is a sensitive account through an empowered youngster's eyes, significantly more abstract than Say Something, by Peggy Moss, illustrated by Lea Lyon (2004), but covering much the same emotional turf. (Picture book. 6-10)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780887768941
Publisher:
Tundra
Publication date:
08/11/2009
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
722,169
Product dimensions:
8.20(w) x 10.20(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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