The True Story of Stellina

The True Story of Stellina

by Matteo Pericoli

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Stellina was a bird: “CHEEP.” A very little bird: “Cheep! cheep!”So begins critically acclaimed author Matteo Pericoli’s all-true story of how he and his wife, Holly, came to rescue and raise a little finch, Stellina, in the middle of New York City. When no zoo would take the abandoned bird, fallen from her nest onto a busy street…  See more details below


Stellina was a bird: “CHEEP.” A very little bird: “Cheep! cheep!”So begins critically acclaimed author Matteo Pericoli’s all-true story of how he and his wife, Holly, came to rescue and raise a little finch, Stellina, in the middle of New York City. When no zoo would take the abandoned bird, fallen from her nest onto a busy street, Holly took her home and gave her the best life she could. And there, in a Manhattan apartment, Stellina leaned how to eat, fly, and sing.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Pericoli's (See the City: The Journey of Manhattan Unfurled) book about raising a baby bird in a Manhattan apartment is a hymn to love, patience and hard-boiled eggs as a starter food. Holly, Pericoli's wife, rescued the nestling Stellina from a busy New York intersection. She kept the tiny finch with her always, peeling grapes for her pet, carrying her to the dance studio in a cardboard box, and listening to Stellina's signature cry: "Cheep." In a gently lilting rhythm with several subtle refrains (including, "And now? What's going to happen now?" at crucial junctures), Pericoli remembers the day Stellina learned to eat by herself, the day she learned to fly ("Holly was so excited,/ because Holly, my wife,/ doesn't know how to fly./ She knows how to dance,/ but not how to fly"), and the day Stellina landed on his own pencil. His pared-down drawings add to the feeling of delicacy as the artist picks and chooses among the details, leaving expanses of clean white space in between. He represents Stellina as a flat shape, but draws himself and his wife in three dimensions, using watercolor wash to show the wrinkles in their hands and the concern in their eyes. The contrast between the intimacy of the little family and the bustle of city life is one of the book's delights, the gentle, honest narrative another. Poignant and thoughtful, his memoir will not fail to endear Stellina to readers of all ages. Ages 5-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
The author's wife Holly hears the "cheep" of a tiny bird, perhaps fallen from a nest, on a busy Manhattan street corner. When no mother bird comes to claim it, she takes the bird, called Stellina, home, constantly wondering, "What's going to happen now?" Holly takes Stellina with her everywhere. Patiently she feeds her until she can eat by herself. Stellina grows, begins to fly around the apartment, to sing. She keeps the author company as he works, but stays safely within the apartment. She is a source of wonder, sadly missed when she dies. The simply told tale communicates both the facts and the emotions of the owners at a level youngsters can understand. The delicate story is fortunately accompanied by line drawings subtly tinted with transparent watercolors. The artist demonstrates considerable restraint and respect for the white of the page. Stellina remains a sketchy small creature bringing joy to those who know her. Pericoli ends the book with a summary of the facts about the bird that obviously meant so much to him and his wife. 2006, Alfred A. Knopf/ Random House Children's Books, Ages 5 to 9.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 4-When the author's wife saw a baby finch stranded at a busy New York City intersection, she took her home and learned how to care for her. Likewise, Stellina, or "little star," learned to trust Holly for food and companionship. The bird flew and sang, lived in an apartment, and traveled to the studio where Holly was a Spanish dancer. Stellina looked out the window but was content being near Holly and Matteo. Early repetition of "Holly, my wife" and Stellina's "CHEEP" sets the tone for a tender connection between pet and caregiver. The pacing of the words makes the book ideal for reading aloud, but the accompanying pencil drawings minimally highlighted with pale watercolors, while visually appealing, may not be large or bright enough for group viewing. Yet the balance among clear text, realistic illustrations, and white space evokes the same calm patience with which Holly nurtured the finch. This creative and informative book, a lively alternative to most nonfiction bird-care books, shows how simple acts of human caring give meaning to daily life.-Julie R. Ranelli, Episcopal Center for Children, Washington, DC Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This tender free-verse poem commemorates a baby finch found on a Manhattan street corner by Holly, the author's future wife. The mother finch having vanished, Holly takes Stellina home; the two (later three, with Matteo) become constant companions, as Stellina learns to feed herself, and then to fly-always seeming to ask, "And now? What's going to happen now?" Singing along with the piano, sometimes lighting on the artist's head or pencil, often sitting pensively at the windowsill, she becomes a permanent resident for the eight years of her life. Pericoli pairs his brief, intimate narrative to elegantly composed views of a small, round, alert bird surrounded by homey details that quickly fade out into white space. A beguiling, urban companion for Christine O'Connell George's Hummingbird Nest: A Journal of Poems (2004). (Picture book. 7-9)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 10.25(h) x 0.39(d)
AD780L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Matteo Pericoli, creator of See the City: The Journey of Manhattan unfurled, is an Italian-born architect and illustrator. He lives with his wife in Queens, New York.

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