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4.3 18
by Rafe Martin, Dan Bellm

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A boy marked by physical difference--one arm is an enchanted wing--finds his strength and purpose in this stirring fantasy. A Washington Post Best Kids Book of 2005 and Book Sense Winter Pick.

Once upon a time, a girl rescued her seven brothers from a spell that had turned them into swans. But one boy, Ardwin, was left with the scar of the spell's last gasp:


A boy marked by physical difference--one arm is an enchanted wing--finds his strength and purpose in this stirring fantasy. A Washington Post Best Kids Book of 2005 and Book Sense Winter Pick.

Once upon a time, a girl rescued her seven brothers from a spell that had turned them into swans. But one boy, Ardwin, was left with the scar of the spell's last gasp: one arm remained a wing. And while Ardwin yearned to find a place in his father's kingdom, the wing whispered to him of open sky and rushing wind. Marked by difference, Ardwin sets out to discover who he is: bird or boy, crippled or sound, cursed or blessed. But followed by the cold eye of a sorceress and with war rumbling at his kingdom's borders, Ardwin's path may lead him not to enlightenment, but into unimaginable danger.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 6-10-This fantasy continues the Grimms' tale of The Six Swans, in which six brothers are turned into swans. Through the great sacrifice of their sister, the spell is broken, but the youngest is left with a swan's wing. Ardwin is torn between his life as a prince and his yearning to take to the skies and rejoin his avian companions. Believing his father will force him to replace his wing with a mechanical arm and marry a rival king's daughter, he flees. His friends Stephen and Skye (on whom he has a secret crush) accompany him. Feeling betrayed after finding them together as a couple, Ardwin goes his own way, hoping that by switching horses with Stephen, he'll elude his father's pursuers. His adventures have only begun as he seeks out the swans he once knew, is attacked by a lion, and rescued by the same wizard who designed the mechanical arm. He also meets the wizard's automatons, his enchantress stepmother, an unusual horse, and a goose girl who is not who she thinks she is. In true fairy-tale fashion, all's well in the end and Ardwin wisely realizes that his wing is a blessing, not a curse. Like all fairy tales, there are lots of plot twists and turns and perhaps that contributes to the sometimes meandering narrative. Overall, this is a well-realized, but unexceptional story.-Sharon Rawlins, NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped, Trenton Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An emotive fairytale extension thoughtfully explores the life of Ardwin, a prince with a swan's wing instead of a left arm. As in Grimm, Ardwin's the youngest of six brothers who spent years living as a swan. Is his remaining wing a blessing or a curse? It gives him emotional stirrings of wildness, but he's called a freak. His father, the king, receives an offer from another king: a truce between realms and a princess for Ardwin to marry-if Ardwin cuts off his wing in favor of a magical prosthetic arm. Troubled, unwilling to be forced, Ardwin sneaks away on a quest to find the wild swans he used to know. The journey holds some surprises. The story's ending is disquietingly random and out-of-the-blue, but that doesn't overshadow the memorable images created along the way as Martin touchingly weaves together fairy tale, the wildness of animals and lyrical characterization. (Fantasy. YA)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.02(w) x 7.06(h) x 0.84(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

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Birdwing 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Corbella More than 1 year ago
In a deep forest King Lugh was hunting and lost his way. An old witch showed up and promised to help only on one condition, if he would marry her daughter. King Lugh was a widower, so he agreed. Before they set of tho the castle, the women flung back her cloak to reveal raven black hair and blood red lips. King Lugh took her up on his horse and the old witch led the way back to his castle. Now, the King had 7 children from his first marrige, 6 sons and 1 daughter. Even though King Lugh's new wife was beautiful, he never felt at ease with her. He decided not to tell her about his children. So he hid them in a castle deep in the woods. The only way to find this castle is to take a magical string. But one day the new Queen got suspicious. Where did the King go every single day? She tried to convince the servants to tell her, but they refused. Once she showed them a closet full of potions, mumified bodies, and poisonious plants, one servant broke down and told all. Except one important detail. He told the Witch Queen of 6 sons, but no daughter. So one day the witch made up 6 shirts and in the fabric she made special designs. Then she took the string and left for the hidden castle. Of course the children thought it was their father so they ran toward her. She flung the 6 shirts on the boys and they instantly turned into swans. All the while the daughter, Rose, saw from the side lines. That night when the king returned to the castle, only Rose ran toward him. So he asked where her brothers were. Rose tried to explain to her father that a women with raven black hair and blood red lips comr to the door and turned her brothers into swans, but he didn't believe it. So instead of obeying her father and staying in the castle, she went off to find her brothers. She found them in an abandoned house, and saw them transform back into humans. But she soon found out that they don't stay human for long, and there is only one way to brake the spell. The only way to brake the spell is for 6 long years you can't speak, cry, or laugh. All the while she must weave 6 shirts of starwort and nettle, it will sting and burn her hands, but as she almost finishes the shirt will fall apart. And the most important she couldn't tell anyone why she is silent. 6 years have gone by and Rose is almost done. The last littlest shirt is almost done, but the swans came to early, so she had no other choice but to fling the shirts on them. The last boy who had the unfinished shirt, Ardwin, had a consequence.He had a bird wing. A swan wing. But the wing gives him powers to talk to animals, but the wing still has downers. When Ardwin is 15 his father had an offer. Ardwin was to marry a rich king's daughter, but under one condition. The wing has to be severed. Ardwin finds out and runs off with his friends, Stephen and Skye. On the way Ardwin runs into a few "problems". So in Birdwing, Ardwin finds himself on a journey to find out if the wing is part of himself or if the wing should be gone forever. Find out yourself!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MakikoMS More than 1 year ago
The simple tale of Ardwin, a boy with a wing for a left arm. This book is really emotional, as Ardwin sets off on a journey to find his inner self, and along the way, meets some friends...and foes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
kaitlyn97 More than 1 year ago
A great book!! This was a Battle of the Books book from this year so, I thought I would read it. I didn't expect it to be this great! Of course, some parts are slow but become better. I wish there would be a sequel! Also, I wish it could added some more about magic. But, It was awesome!! I highly reccommend this book!
Tay--Tay More than 1 year ago
This book is Great!!! I love fairy tales and no-fiction books but Rafe Martin did an exelant job with this book i Strongly recomend this book!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i love fairy tales so i really loved this book. i also noticed that the cover showed ardwin with a right wing but in the book they said it was the left but the book was good anyway!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you liked this book you should definately read Daughter of the forest by Juliet Marillier wich pretty much is what happens befor he ends up with one wing.Although this is a good book I think Daughter of the Forest is much better written and has a better plot
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this novel to be refreshingly original. I loved how Ardwin's emotions seemed to change with the situation. At times I lost interest though, and it was difficult to read every sentence. At the end it was kinda weird of how every thing was so perfect and happy, so it was kinda annoying. Other than that, when I think of my favorite books, this one doesn't make the list. Overall, it was a good novel about a boy who discovers himself. I also noticed that the cover is innacurate because the wing is supposed to be on the left side.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a really neat book to read! I love hearing all about Ardwin and how he is treated like an outcast and in the first chapter, it explains the story behind Birwing so then you're less confused throughout the story. I myself knew the story but to hear things from Ardwin's eyes completely took the book to a new level!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was wonderful. Even from the beginning, I was aware it would be. Ardwin is a very troubled, but interesting character. I noticed however, that the cover is not very accurate since it shows his swan wing replacing his right arm instead of his left. I thought the ending was a little rushed, but other than that the book was neatly ordered and drove me on to read further and further.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In reading Birdwing I was so captured by the quest for completeness and inclusion we all seek. This is a continuation of a Grimm brother's tale of six boys turned into swans. Here, their sister breaks the evil spell and rescues them all except for Ardwin who returns to human form with a swan¿s left wing. Seen as a freak whose wing seemingly has a mind of its own, we follow Ardwin¿s conflict with his father, the king, his departure from the royal castle and his picaresque journey to recapture his sense of fellowship with the swans only to be rejected by them as a freakish human. Along the way he meets a wizard, a bear, friendly tavern people and some assorted ill-tempered highwaymen. Arwin learns valuable lessons and becomes a man ready to assert himself and take a place in his world. In the end, he finds that what makes him different also makes him able to straddle the human and animal worlds and he, in fact, is able to communicate with swans, horses, and other animals. The dilemma is which aspect of his being most completes him and which side must he give up to break the spell and become fully human. An interesting conundrum. The fable ends with acceptance and love. There is a beautiful elegiac tone to Ardwin¿s musings and internal dialogues as he realizes, finally, that loneliness and loss are not burdens to be endured but gifts that help us understand our position and roles in life. They provide the wisdom whereby we see that what hurts us often allows us greater vision and empathy. This is a surprisingly instructive book, full of unexpected questions, lessons and magic in short, a good read that young adults and adults can enjoy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is so well writen, all the characters are so real even Ardwin with his wing. Everyone has a wing, and like Ardwin we have to decide what to do with it, hide it, cut it off or proudly display and accept it, just like life. It will not disappoint,
Guest More than 1 year ago
At first I thought the story sounded weird, but one I started reading it I could not stop. Ardwin seems like a freak at first, but then you start to understand him and realize you would have the same doubts and questions too if it happened to you. This is a story about being different from others, and finding acceptance. Two other really good books I read for class and would recommend are Flowers for Algernon and An Audience for Einstein.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderfully written story with many memorable, lovable characters and intriguing adventure. There was never a dull moment or a time when I did not feel deeply involved with Ardwin's quest. Highly recommended!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Haven't read yet, but i know it will be a great book. I've been looking forward to this read, and you should make sure you pick it up. You won't be disappointed. Eric
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, at first I didnt but as I read on I started to.