by Joke van Leeuwen, Joke Van Leeuwen

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Originally published in the Netherlands, van Leeuwen’s fable-like fantasy revolves around a half-girl/half-bird and her effect on the people whose lives she touches. Named Birdy by Warren and Tina, a childless couple whose life she literally falls into, the bird-girl calls herself Beedy, due to her difficulties with pronunciation. She develops a habit of flying away without warning and abruptly leaves Warren and Tina, arriving in the bedroom of motherless Lottie, an imaginative child who had always believed that “one day, someone or something extraordinary would be waiting for her when she got home.” Lottie is good to her—as were Warren and Tina—but Beedy leaves her, too. The bird-girl somehow fills such a deep need in everyone she encounters that they are compelled to search for her; soon, there is a group of four, Chicken Little–style, on her trail. Coincidences and near misses proliferate, culminating at a peculiar hotel where eccentric, troubled people come to be cured. While melodically translated and accompanied by van Leeuwen’s amusing line drawings, the somewhat bewildering tale may leave some readers scratching their heads. Ages 9–up. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—In this whimsical and touching story, Warren discovers a half bird/half girl, and he and his wife, Tina, take her in. They call her Beedy and love and care for her as their own child, until one day she unexpectedly flies away. Heartbroken, they set off to find her in hopes of saying good-bye. The couple soon meets up with several other people who have been touched by Beedy, and who never had a proper farewell either. Traveling together, they all search for the mysterious creature and learn valuable lessons along the way. Interspersed with illustrations reminiscent of Quentin Blake's work, the story ultimately conveys a message about connections and family. The main characters have a childlike wonderment that makes the fact that they are grown-ups kind of a secondary quality. For example, at one point they go to the big city to try to find out what could have happened to the child and spend hours going to different information booths. They collect data on movie times, bus schedules, and exchange rates, but are unable to find out anything about where their Beedy went. This original and creative work is compelling from the opening drawing right to the end of the book. Anyone looking for a fun read will enjoy the story, but it may be particularly poignant for children dealing with issues surrounding closure.—Kerry Roeder, Corlears School, New York City
Kirkus Reviews
Celebrated Dutch children's author van Leeuwen brings her enigmatic recent classic to an American audience. One day, avid bird watcher Warren finds a strange creature under a bush. "This was a bird in the shape of a little girl. Or a little girl in the shape of a bird. Or something in between." He takes the bird-girl home to his reclusive wife, Tina, and the couple, who always hoped for children, form an immediate attachment to the creature they name Beedy, after its mispronunciation of "Birdy." When Beedy flies away one day without a good-bye, Warren and Tina, in a fashion much like Alice's chase after the white rabbit, begin to search for their bird-girl. On their quest, they meet a host of equally downtrodden individuals, including Lottie, whose single father often leaves her alone while traveling for work, a depressed rescue worker and a boy obsessed with spirits and ghosts. Together, they not only look for Beedy but form a fierce bond of friendship and love. Van Leeuwen's quiet prose beautifully describes the characters' sentiments as each also finds wonder along the way. Her line drawings, quirky by American standards, add a playful nuance to the already layered story. Adults will better understand Beedy's need for freedom and a parent's difficulty in letting go. Willing readers of all ages will delight in the story's unusual surprises. (Fiction. 9-12)

Product Details

Gecko Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >