My Dad's a Birdman

Overview

"Flight as a metaphor for love’s transcendence over grief takes a new form in this comic piece of magical realism."
-School Library Journal

In a rainy town in the north of England, there are strange goings-on. Dad is building a pair of wings, eating flies, and feathering his nest. Auntie Doreen is getting cross and making dumplings. Contest barker Mr. Poop is parading the streets shouting louder and louder, and even Mr. Mint, the headmaster, is...

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Overview

"Flight as a metaphor for love’s transcendence over grief takes a new form in this comic piece of magical realism."
-School Library Journal

In a rainy town in the north of England, there are strange goings-on. Dad is building a pair of wings, eating flies, and feathering his nest. Auntie Doreen is getting cross and making dumplings. Contest barker Mr. Poop is parading the streets shouting louder and louder, and even Mr. Mint, the headmaster, is not quite himself. And watching it all is Lizzie, missing her mam and looking after Dad by letting him follow his newfound whimsy. From an inspired creative pairing comes a story of the Great Human Bird Competition - an exuberant tale of the healing power of flights of fancy, and a very special father-daughter bond.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Anita Barnes Lowen
It may be a ordinary spring morning at 12 Lark Lane but Lizzie's life is anything but. She is up in the morning getting ready for school, making breakfast and badgering, cajoling and threatening her father until he is out of bed and on his way to the breakfast table. Lizzie's father is no longer the father Lizzie remembers—the one who built the doll house for her fifth birthday, the puppets and the puppet theater, the playhouse and the swing in the garden. This father is obsessed with flying, with becoming a birdman and with winning the Great Human Bird Competition. He has built beautiful wings. He is eating a diet of worms and flies. He has built a nest in the middle of the kitchen. Her dad, according to Auntie Doreen, is going potty as a pancake. This is an often laugh-out-loud story but one with an undercurrent of sadness. It is a story of loss: "I don't need you to be a birdman. I just need you to be my dad." And a story of acceptance: "‘Hey, Dad,' she said, ‘mebbe I can help you.'" In the end, it does not matter if Lizzie and her dad fly or fall. Whatever happens..."We've got each other. We're doing it together... That's what really matters." Kids will giggle over the outlandish characters with silly names like Mr. Poop and Mrs. Doody. And the whimsical illustrations will give them a colorful peek into all the craziness that is going on at 12 Lark Lane. Reviewer: Anita Barnes Lowen
School Library Journal

Gr 1-4- A distinguished author's use of birds and human flight as metaphors for love's transcendence over grief and death takes a new form in this comic piece of magical realism. Lizzie and her widowed dad live in a city along the river Tyne in the north of England. From the first page it is clear that Lizzie is playing parent to her father's irresponsible child. Both are reacting to the recent death of Lizzie's mother. While the girl works hard at school, Dad remains in his room, unshaven and undressed. Finding purpose in the recently announced Great Human Bird Competition ("the first one to fly over the river Tyne wins a thousand pounds"), he secretly constructs a pair of wings from bird feathers and starts to consume bugs and worms. Sensible Auntie Doreen, as solid as her dumplings, calls him "daft." But when she tries to take Lizzie away from him, the child does her realistic best to make her father's dreams come true. Handsomely produced, the book is printed in varying size typefaces and enhanced by Dunbar's pencil, watercolor, and collage illustrations interspersed throughout the text. Casual yet evocative, they perfectly interpret Almond's broadly sketched characters. A fine read-aloud.-Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams

Kirkus Reviews
Almond aims at a younger audience than usual, but crafts a tale at least as emotionally complex as any of his heavier outings. Young Lizzie's widowed dad has regressed back to childhood-to the point where she has to force him to eat breakfast, can't get him out of pajamas and even frets about leaving him alone in the house while she's at school. Worse, he's constructed wings, taken to eating bugs and worms on the sly to get his weight down and entered the Great Human Bird Competition in order to "make me mark at last." Building on this depressing premise, the author unexpectedly fashions a buoyant story in which "It doesn't matter if we fly or if we fall. We've got each other. We're doing it together. That's all that matters." The characters sport silly names like Doreen Doody and Mr. Poop, and Dunbar's colored illustrations, which appear on nearly every spread, evoke Quentin Blake. Readers will definitely come away with mixed feelings-not necessarily a bad thing, to be sure. (Fiction. 10-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763653453
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 3/22/2011
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 977,767
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 420L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.74 (w) x 8.94 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

David Almond, whose many awards include a Carnegie Medal and a Michael L. Printz Award, is known worldwide as the author of SKELLIG, KIT'S WILDERNESS, HEAVEN EYES, THE FIRE EATERS, and many other books and plays. Of MY DAD'S A BIRDMAN, his first novel for younger readers, he says, "Birds have always been a big influence. It’s something to do with the urge to transcend our earthbound state, to sing, to be free. There is darkness in the story, of course, but I think I found a way to make a joyful piece about grieving, about how love can help us overcome pain, and about how the imagination can work profound changes." He lives in Northumberland, England.

Polly Dunbar is the author-illustrator of DOG BLUE, FLYAWAY KATIE, and PENGUIN, and the illustrator of SHOE BABY by Joyce Dunbar and HERE'S A LITTLE POEM by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters. She lives in Brighton, England.

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