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Summer and Bird

Overview


An enchanting--and twisted--tale of two sisters' quest to find their parents

When their parents disappear in the middle of the night, young sisters Summer and Bird set off on a quest to find them. A cryptic picture message from their mother leads them to a familiar gate in the woods, but comfortable sights quickly give way to a new world entirely--Down--one inhabited by talking birds and the evil Puppeteer queen. Summer and Bird are quickly separated, and their divided hearts ...

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Summer and Bird

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Overview


An enchanting--and twisted--tale of two sisters' quest to find their parents

When their parents disappear in the middle of the night, young sisters Summer and Bird set off on a quest to find them. A cryptic picture message from their mother leads them to a familiar gate in the woods, but comfortable sights quickly give way to a new world entirely--Down--one inhabited by talking birds and the evil Puppeteer queen. Summer and Bird are quickly separated, and their divided hearts lead them each in a very different direction in the quest to find their parents, vanquish the Puppeteer, lead the birds back to their Green Home, and discover the identity of the true bird queen.

With breathtaking language and deliciously inventive details, Katherine Catmull has created a world unlike any other, skillfully blurring the lines between magic and reality and bringing to life a completely authentic cast of characters and creatures.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
After a bewildering day that begins with 12-year-old Summer following the trail of her vanished parents and ends at a bonfire in the forest with Bird, her nine-year-old sister, Summer wakes to find Bird has also abandoned her to follow a path "just for me." There is only the mysterious, elderly Ben for company, along with hints that birds hold the key—sometimes literally—to Summer's questions. Ben's kindhearted but murky guidance ("‘It might mean just exactly that,' said Ben. ‘But it might also mean more than that'") doesn't last long, and then there are no reliable adults, no clear roads to follow as Summer struggles to piece together who she is now that the people who defined her are gone. With a fairy tale–tinged sadness reminiscent of Anne Ursu's Breadcrumbs, Catmull's debut is a melancholy quest fantasy with no trophy at the end; instead, Summer finds the most somber of adult realities. The book's greatest strength lies in Catmull's ability to articulate the disorientation and sense of injustice that accompany loss. Ages 10–up. Agent: David Dunton, Harvey Klinger. (Oct.)
VOYA - Jennifer Miskec
Independent and smart, sisters Summer and Bird are not too alarmed when they wake up to find their parents missing—at least not at first. Using what they know about tracking in the woods, the girls follow the clues their mother left for them, determined to find their parents on their own. As they journey farther and farther into the wilderness, the girls soon find themselves in places unknown—other worlds, in fact—and are eventually compelled to follow their desires in two different directions. The rest of the fantasy tale unfolds as the sisters reconnect with each other and discover the truth about themselves and their familial lineage: their human father and half human/half swan mother, the bird queen. A rich cast of talking birds and bird people populate this aviarian tale. With imagery that is part Swan Lake, part Irish selkie, Catmull's first novel is an interesting contribution to contemporary mythology. Despite the lush backdrop and intricate otherworld fantasy, however, Catmull's characters remain rather flat, their motivations somewhat unclear as the story stretches slowly on. Too long and unnecessarily complicated, this book is beautiful to look at and has some lovely magical moments within, but it is doubtful that it is going to fly with the average teen reader. Reviewer: Jennifer Miskec
Children's Literature - Cynthia Levinson
Summer, twelve, and Bird, nine, are sisters. Each looks like her name, and they are as different from each other as their names imply. They live in a remote cabin with their parents at one end of a long green and look out into the woods. One cold morning, they wake up to find that their parents have vanished, apparently through a previously locked inner-closet. Frightened but stalwart and using the key that the reader learns was dropped the night before by the menacing Great Gray Owl, they venture into the woods to search for them. As has been her wont, their mother has left for them a picture-letter, a note of iconic, story-telling images, which, though hard to decipher, expresses her equal love for them and gives them hope. When the girls reach the Down, Bird, hearing a call, follows her own separate instincts. Summer, meanwhile, is accosted by an old man, named Ben, who gains her confidence and answers her questions, yet remains mysterious. In fact, this exquisitely written dreamscape of a book manages to remain mysterious, even though the reader is rarely left completely in the dark. Early on, the reader, unlike Summer and Bird, learn that their mother has regained her original form, that of a swan, and that their desperate father has set out in a canoe to reclaim her. Also unbeknownst to them, they are under threat from the Puppeteer and a lurking cat as well as the Owl. Along their journey, other woodland creatures lead and mislead them. This is an alluring book about home and identity that culminates in a gratifying and reassuring, though by no means trite, ending. Reviewer: Cynthia Levinson
Kirkus Reviews
A haunting fable inflected with mythological and fairy-tale motifs finds two sisters abandoned by their parents in conflict with each other. Summer, 12, and Bird, 9, live an idyllic life with their ornithologist father, their mother and their cat. When they wake one morning to find parents and cat gone, there is just an enigmatic "picture letter" from their mother left behind. Into the woods they go to find them, their fright exacerbating the resentments that normally exist between sisters. Bird finds the way into Down, a place of magic, and Summer follows, but soon they are tragically separated, and each must blunder along on her own. Their mother, it turns out, is queen of the birds, in human form since their father stole her swan robe. The evil Puppeteer craves her power, to have bird language and wings, and she cozens Bird into her service, White Witch–like. The girls' physical journeys are metaphors for their emotional ones, the helpers and adversaries they meet as strange and as complicated as their psyches. The author balances this meticulous, symbol-rich narrative with a light, storyteller's voice, posing questions that readers must answer for themselves. At its heart, it is a story of love and imperfection, and of the necessity of embracing both. "The way a story is told has power," the narrator asserts; Catmull's languorously beautiful telling is puissant indeed. (Fantasy. 10-14)
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* "A haunting fable inflected with mythological and fairy-tale motifs  . . .  meticulous, symbol-rich narrative with a light, storyteller's voice . .  languorously beautiful."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525953463
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 10/2/2012
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 947,324
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 760L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Katherine Catmull is an actor, freelance writer, voice-over artist, and sometimes playwright. She lives in Austin, Texas. This is her first book.
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Read an Excerpt

With a song to guide them.
 
At the edge of the forest, at their mother’s gate, Bird began to sing. “Two little cygnets,” she sang, “starting on their way.” It was from an endless nursery-rhyme song their mother used to sing when they were small. “The path was dark,/And they went astray.”
            “We won’t go astray,” said Summer. Bird didn’t answer, but with a twist of the pink backpack, she stepped ahead of Summer, and entered the forest first.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2012

    I loved this book. It was beautifuly written, and stunning. It

    I loved this book. It was beautifuly written, and stunning. It was also a very good story and so gripping that I read it four hours one night and then woke up the next morning and finished it in two more hours. I loved the characters, the details, and the amazing writing. I really liked the length because I didn't think a single page was wasted, or could've been left out, and yet the plot wasn't over-complicated. The cover art was beautiful, too. At first I liked Bird the best, but then I grew to care for Summer, too. There was a multitude of character development, but I liked the characters from the very first page. It was a great book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2012

    Annoymus

    I recomenfd this for anyone who wants to read it. It is a creative tale of two sisters. They go on adventures in Doun. GREAT BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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