Bird [NOOK Book]

Overview

Entrenched secrets, mysterious spirits, and an astonishing friendship weave together in this extraordinary and haunting debut.

Nothing matters. Only Bird matters. And he flew away.

Jewel never knew her brother Bird, but all her life she has lived in his shadow. Her parents blame Grandpa for the tragedy of their family’s past; they say that Grandpa attracted a malevolent spirit—a duppy—into their home. Grandpa ...

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Bird

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Overview

Entrenched secrets, mysterious spirits, and an astonishing friendship weave together in this extraordinary and haunting debut.

Nothing matters. Only Bird matters. And he flew away.

Jewel never knew her brother Bird, but all her life she has lived in his shadow. Her parents blame Grandpa for the tragedy of their family’s past; they say that Grandpa attracted a malevolent spirit—a duppy—into their home. Grandpa hasn’t spoken a word since. Now Jewel is twelve, and she lives in a house full of secrets and impenetrable silence.

Jewel is sure that no one will ever love her like they loved Bird, until the night that she meets a mysterious boy in a tree. Grandpa is convinced that the boy is a duppy, but Jewel knows that he is something more. And that maybe—just maybe—the time has come to break through the stagnant silence of the past.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
01/01/2014
Gr 4–6—Jewel never met her brother. On the day she was born, he tried to fly off a cliff and died. Her parents believe that Grandpa's nickname for his grandson, Bird, caused a bad spirit, a duppy, to trick the boy into believing he could fly. Twelve years later, Grandpa has still not spoken a word and Jewel is fed up with her moody parents and unloving household. She meets a boy who calls himself John, her brother's real name. They share their hopes and dreams and Jewel opens up about visiting the cliff to bury her worries as small stones. Grandpa thinks John is a duppy in disguise, come to cause more harm. Jewel is a multilayered, emotional character who struggles to come to terms with her family's issues. The mixture of superstition and science creates a wonderful juxtaposition in this powerful story about loss and moving on.—Clare A. Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, MA
Publishers Weekly
01/27/2014
Jewel's five-year-old brother, John, nicknamed Bird, was expecting to fly when he jumped off a cliff to his death the day Jewel was born. Twelve years later, Jewel's family is far from having recovered. Grandpa hasn't spoken since, Jewel's father believes that both Grandpa and "duppies" (harmful Jamaican spirits) are responsible for the tragedy, and Jewel's mother, who is of Mexican descent, is depressed and resentful of the family's superstitions. An outsider in her own joyless home and in her small town of Caledonia, Iowa, Jewel takes her troubles to nature, dreaming of becoming a geologist. When she meets a boy named John with big aspirations and struggles of his own, they become friends. Grandpa, however, thinks John is a duppy, and when John betrays Jewel's trust, she's forced to assess her own beliefs. In a thoughtful debut, Chan weaves together topics of race, repressed emotion, and destructive family dynamics, setting events against the beauty of the Midwestern landscape. Jewel's gentle voice offers moments of insight and wisdom as she becomes empowered to move beyond her parents' losses and desires. Ages 8–12. Agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Literary Management. (Jan.)
March 2014 Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
"Daughter of a Jamaican father and her half-Mexican, half-white mother, Jewel has always felt out of place in her small Iowa town. . . . When Jewel meets John, an adopted black boy staying with his uncle, she finds a kindred spirit, someone as out of place as she is. . . . Chan has carefully crafted John and Jewel as effective foils for each other; their shared interest in science propels multiple metaphors that help Jewel figure out what is solid and knowable versus what must be taken on faith or intuited. . . both character arcs show a deep respect for readers’ abilities to negotiate the complexities of belief and doubt, and to find meaning via character reflection."
December 2013 Booklist
“This is a slow read—thoughtful and introspective about the dynamics of a grieving family—and contemplative readers will be rewarded by Jewel’s journey."
Shelf Awareness
"The voice of 12-year-old Jewel carries readers through this lyrical and buoyant debut from Crystal Chan. . . . Chan's strong characterizations and her way with words make her a writer to watch."
March 2014 Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
"Daughter of a Jamaican father and her half-Mexican, half-white mother, Jewel has always felt out of place in her small Iowa town. . . . When Jewel meets John, an adopted black boy staying with his uncle, she finds a kindred spirit, someone as out of place as she is. . . . Chan has carefully crafted John and Jewel as effective foils for each other; their shared interest in science propels multiple metaphors that help Jewel figure out what is solid and knowable versus what must be taken on faith or intuited. . . both character arcs show a deep respect for readers’ abilities to negotiate the complexities of belief and doubt, and to find meaning via character reflection."
January 2014 School Library Journal
"Jewel is a multilayered, emotional character who struggles to come to terms with her family’s issues. The mixture of superstition and science creates a wonderful juxtaposition in this powerful story about loss and moving on."
Children's Literature - Greta Holt
Grandpa does not talk. He is convinced that he killed Jewel’s brother John by giving him the nickname “Bird.” At five years of age, on the day of Jewel’s birth, John jumped from a cliff to see if he could fly. Jewel is now twelve. Her Jamaican family is living in Iowa and labors under the weight of superstition and guilt. Jewel often sneaks to the cliff, where she gradually places interesting rocks in a circle to honor her brother. It is her place of release from the family’s depression and fear. Jewel has a special tree as well, in which she dreams of a future as a geologist. One day, a boy her age takes her place in the tree. After arguing, they decide to share the tree. The boy says his name is John. Given her family’s immersion in the supernatural—bad and occasionally good spirits called “duppies”—Jewel is amazed that this boy, who wants to be an astronaut and fly to the stars, has appeared. A summer of self-discovery follows. Two families strive to heal from deep wounds. The story is compelling, readable, and authentic in tone. It contains lessons about moving on that adults, as well as children, will recognize. Loving those who survive is the ultimate triumph. Reviewer: Greta Holt; Ages 8 to 12.
Kirkus Reviews
2013-11-02
Jewel Campbell's life began the day her older brother John's tragically ended, a coincidence that's shaped and shadowed her family since. Her Jamaican-immigrant grandfather nicknamed John "Bird," encouraging him to imagine he could fly with disastrous results. He hasn't said a word since and, along with Jewel's dad, blames the catastrophe on evil spirits from Jamaica, duppies. Both have gone to great lengths to repel future supernatural harm (Jewel's white-Mexican mom retains some skepticism). Largely ignored, Jewel is equally in thrall to the family narrative. After the family visits Bird's grave on her 12th birthday, she steals out to climb a tree in a neighbor's field and meets a boy who tells her his name is John. Like Jewel, whose passion is geology, he's a budding scientist with a complex heritage--African-American, adopted by white parents. They exchange secrets. Both feel out of place, moved by forces beyond their control, like the erratic granite boulder Jewel climbs. Jewel's observant reflections on her rural-Iowa world give this debut its considerable charm. As brutal antagonism intensifies among the adults, the focus shifts to characters and events before Jewel's birth, making Jewel less actor than bystander in her own story. For young readers especially, the resolution is uncomfortably vague. Though it loses momentum halfway through, the strong opening bodes well for future endeavors. (Fiction. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442450905
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 1/28/2014
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 408,352
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Crystal Chan grew up as a mixed-race kid in the Wisconsin cornfields. She now lives in Chicago. As well as a writer, she is also a professional storyteller and performer. Bird is her first novel.
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Read an Excerpt

It was my twelfth birthday today, and everyone was supposed to be happy. It was hard to be happy, though, when Grandpa shut himself up in his room for the whole day, like he does every year on my birthday. Mom and Dad made me a cake with vanilla frosting and sprinkles, gave me a present – some socks from the dollar store, but they’re cute and all – and the three of us went to the cemetery to visit Bird and Granny. I always watch those movies where kids have big birthday parties with music and party hats and huge presents and even ponies, and I think it would be nice to have a birthday like that. Especially the ponies. Just once. Instead, I’ve always had to share my special day with the silence behind Grandpa’s closed door and the silence at the cemetery and the silence that hangs thick between Mom and Dad’s words.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

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(6)

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 31, 2014

    Bird is probably one of the best middle grade novels I¿ve read

    Bird is probably one of the best middle grade novels I’ve read in a very long time. I’ll admit that I can be extremely picky when it comes to books. I’ve been known to abandon books after reading the first two or three pages because I didn’t like the writer’s style or the narrator’s voice, but Bird had me intrigued right away. 
    Straight off the bat, we learn that Jewel’s grandfather played a role in her brother’s death, by giving him a misleading nickname. The book begins on the day of Jewel’s twelfth birthday, which unfortunately is also the twelve-year anniversary of her brother’s death. She goes on to explain that though birthdays are generally a happy event, it was always difficult to be happy on her birthday because of what happened the day she was born.  Later that night, she sneaks out of the house for some alone time and meets a boy who goes by the name John—her brother’s birth name. The two of them immediately hit it off and develop a friendship but her grandfather doesn’t trust John and goes out of the way to keep him away from Jewel and her family.
    What I love about this book is how relatable, yet different the story is. Everyone has their own personal demons and many people will tell you that they have spent their whole life living in the shadow of an older sibling who did everything better. But for Jewel, it is completely different. She constantly reminds her parents of the son they had lost. This not only makes her feel inadequate, but also gives her the impression that her parents don’t love her and don’t want her around, taking the misunderstanding that happens between parent and child to a whole new level. 
    Many books deal with identity and parent and child relationships but Bird is on a completely different playing field. As the story unfolds, we learn more about Jewel’s family and watch as everything falls apart. Bird is a compelling story about values, traditions and relationships that redefines what it means to be a family. I laughed and I cried. I finished the book in one sitting simply because I could not put it down. 

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2014

    Good read

    Short, but full of so much feeling.

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  • Posted October 9, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Don't let the fact that the book summary really doesn't say much

    Don't let the fact that the book summary really doesn't say much turn you off of this one. It was an amazing story about a family trying desperately to move on after a tragedy - and so far failing to do so. Their 12 year old daughter is feeling the brunt of this tragedy - the death of her brother on the day she was born. Her family has never come out from under this cloud, in fact her grandfather doesn't even speak anymore.

    Jewel has learned to live life this way, until she meets a new boy in town. He helps her see herself as something valuable and smart. He shows her that she has something to contribute. It was beautiful to watch this family slowly begin to pull themselves back together and build their life all over again.

    There was a surprising amount of culture in this story. An interesting mix of Jamaican and Mexican. I learned a lot about Jamaican superstitions and they play a role in how this family functions. They are also the cause of many arguments and long time hard feelings. Yet more things for Jewel to find herself stuck in the middle of.

    Bird was a great coming of age story about a family that has hit rock bottom and the daughter that pulls them back up again.

    *This book was received in exchange for an honest review*

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  • Posted June 11, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Pros: Great start to book! Author has excellent ability to speak

    Pros: Great start to book! Author has excellent ability to speak from a child's perspective, although with more complexity and grace. Great plot and great surprises all the way to the end.

    Cons: None.

    "Bird" by Crystal Chan is an excellent surprise of a book! I assumed that the book would be about the trials and triumphs of a mixed race girl as she learns to handle society's response to her identity. That isn't a bad concept for a book, but I've read plenty of books like that. What I received from Crystal Chan was a book that demonstrated, rather than just showed, the fluidity of identity, childhood, culture and more on par with books like "To Kill a Mockingbird". It began with a very gripping scene and then mellowed a little as the reader gets to travel in the life of "Bird" (the main character. From there, the plot thickens as Bird has to navigate through many worlds as a lone daughter with parents of two different cultures and perspectives, as a friend to John (who turns out to be something else than what he says), and as a griever to her long-dead brother whose impression still haunts the family.

    The plot is further enhanced with mystery, because nothing it what it seems. People change alliances, people get fired, and people get hurt. Along the way, readers will experience a few twists and turns that they didn't see coming. (Again, the theme of fluidity.) The ending was simple, but good enough and had just the right amount of mystery with room enough for a potential sequel.

    A great read for anyone (adult or child over 10) will enjoy! It's that good!


    Memorable Quotes
    "I'm half-Jamaican, a quarter white, an a quarter Mexican",I said. "Wow", John said, "I didn't know people could turn out like that" (p.7)

    "If you give up too much of yourself too fast, then someone can jump up and take it away" (p. 9)

    "Digging in the backyard is not science" (p. 39)

    "Dirt is everything" (p. 39)

    "Shouldn't they ask who I am? Why am I a what?" (p. 62)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2014

    Naties bio

    Im 13 brown hair blue eys tan average height i do gymnastics and i live in ny . My fave color is purple and i am very outgoing and have a bubbly personality . I am a straighta student and i love helping people . I also adore animals .

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2014

    This book i awsome

    When i first say this book at barns and noble. I read the first page and then I couldn't get out of that book.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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