The Birdman

( 1 )

Overview

Noor Nobi is a broken man, wandering the streets of Calcutta with no reason to live. His three children, snatched from him in a cruel accident, were everything he worked for and loved. But one day, he enters a crowded market and sees a bird, caged and frightened and sick. With very little money in his pocket, he waits until the vendor is closing up.

Quickly, Noor Nobi bargains and, happy to get anything for the sickly thing, the vendor accepts his offer. For some reason Noor ...

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Overview

Noor Nobi is a broken man, wandering the streets of Calcutta with no reason to live. His three children, snatched from him in a cruel accident, were everything he worked for and loved. But one day, he enters a crowded market and sees a bird, caged and frightened and sick. With very little money in his pocket, he waits until the vendor is closing up.

Quickly, Noor Nobi bargains and, happy to get anything for the sickly thing, the vendor accepts his offer. For some reason Noor Nobi cannot explain, it is important for him to nurse the bird back to health. When it is finally able to fly, Noor Nobi takes his bird to a big Banyan tree and releases it. Only then is he able to weep and fully grieve for his children.

Before Noor Nobi knows it, he is back at work and taking his weekly earnings to the market where he continues to buy, heal, and free as many birds as he can. Crowds gather; some laugh and say he is crazy, some stand reverently, some don’t know what to think. But Noor Nobi’s kindness saves a growing number of birds, and the birds, in turn, give him new purpose.

Author Veronika Martenova Charles read a short newspaper article about the “Birdman” of Calcutta and her imagination took flight. She traveled to India, found Noor Nobi, and witnessed the freeing of the birds for herself.

The Birdman is a touching, true story, tenderly illustrated by Annouchka Gravel Galouchko and Stéphan Daigle. It is accompanied by an afterword, diary entries, and photographs of the author’s experience.

The Birdman is based on a real man in Calcutta who heals and frees sick birds. Author Veronika Martenova Charles read a short newspaper article about the Birdman of Calcutta and her imagination took flight. She traveled to India, found Noor Nobi, and witnessed the freeing of the birds for herself. The Birdman is a touching, true story illustrated by Annouchka Gravel Galouchko and Stephan Daigle.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[The Birdman is written in a] vivid, poetic text…[complemented by] vibrant folk-art paintings, gloriously patterned with flowers, Hindu symbols, and soaring birds"
- Booklist
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
Noor Nobi, a hardworking tailor in bustling Calcutta, is devastated when an accident kills his beloved children. He has always spared crumbs for the birds, but for weeks after the tragedy he finds himself unable to do or care about anything, even to cry. He notices nothing until he sees cages of trapped birds for sale in the market. He can afford to buy only one, but when he sets the birds free, his empty heart "filled out a bit." Determined to buy and free more, he goes back to work. He buys the leftover sickly birds, nurses them back to health, and watches them soar away. Finally he is able to cry as the monsoon rains arrive to water the parched earth. Now Noor Nobi, who buys and releases birds every Monday in Calcutta, is known as the Birdman. The decorative birds and the gentle hero pictured on the jacket have a mystical aura throughout the visual story. Gouache scenes exude the exotic warmth of Calcutta, scenes dominated by the birds whose fanciful feather patterns attract and hold attention. The stylized humans in their local dress add to the respectful emotional content of this almost mythical true story. A final note fills in the factual background.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-This story, set in Calcutta, is based on a real person. Noor Nobi sews clothes to support his three children. When they are lost in an accident, he is overwhelmed with despair and unable to work. Weeks later, while walking through the market, he notices the cages crammed with birds, and he longs to free them. With the little he has in his pocket, he buys one of them and releases it in the shade of a banyan tree. Resolved, he works harder than ever before to earn money to buy more birds. With a new mission in his heart, he returns the next week to purchase as many as he can, nursing the frail ones back to health so he can set them free. The author includes background information on Noor Nobi and photographs of her visit to India and to the tailor's workshop. Spectacularly illustrated in gouache, this story of grief turned to compassion is lovely to look at and elegantly told.-Alexa Sandmann, Kent State University, OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Noor Nobi makes dresses for children on his sewing machine in Calcutta to support his own three children. When they are taken from him in a terrible accident, he is in despair. But he goes to the market and purchases, with the smallest of sums, a tiny, sickly bird, and releases it back to the world. He is so moved by this act that he goes to work at his sewing machine with renewed strength, and every Monday releases the birds he has purchased and nursed back to health. Basing this on a true story, Charles ends her tale with a long afterword about the real birdman and his new family. It's a bit disconcerting that there is no explanation of how Noor lost his children, and the text is rather stilted. However, the illustrations, done in gouache in brilliant jewel-like hues, have elements of magical realism in their pattern and geometry and combine with the theme of the story to lift the reader's spirit. (Picture book. 6-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887767401
  • Publisher: Tundra
  • Publication date: 10/10/2006
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 10.92 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Meet the Author

Veronika Martenova Charles is an award-winning author and illustrator whose books include: Maiden of the Mist: A Legend of Niagara Falls; Stretch, Swallow, & Stare; The Crane Girl; and The Birdman. Veronika has studied at Ryerson University, the Ontario College or Art and Design, and recently completed her graduate studies in Folklore at York University. Veronika Martenova Charles lives in Toronto.

A native of Montreal, Annouchka Gravel Galouchko has lived in Iran, Egypt, Mexico, and Austria. Winner of a Governor General’s Award for illustration and nominee for French language text (Sho et les dragons d’eau), she has exhibited her paintings widely.
Annouchka’s partner, Stéphan Daigle, is an internationally known painter and illustrator of books, magazines, and corporate images. He, too, was born in Montreal. The couple’s collaboration on The Birdman has resulted in an exceptional blend of color and design, along with depth and symbolism that belie its prettiness. Stéphan and Annouchka live in Quebec with their eight-year-old son, Sacha.

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