“Finely tuned.” Starred, Booklist
“Bird's original voice has charm, grit, and spunkiness that, combined with small town sensibilities, unique characters, and humor, spell out a winner.” Starred, Kirkus Reviews
“An idiosyncratic group of characters play out this touching and well-paced story about friendship, family, and connection.” Horn Book Magazine
“Bird is literary kin to Scout, heroine of Harper Lee's famous "To Kill a Mockingbird.…as charming and fresh as …the month of May.” Boston Globe
Sixth-grader Burdette "Bird" Weaver joins the ranks of O'Connor's (Me and Rupert Goody; Moonpie and Ivy) unflappable and memorable smalltown narrators. When Harlem Tate moves to Freedom, Ga., and winds up in Bird's class, she wants to make friends with him "before somebody poisons his mind with lies" about her. She confides her wish during one of her daily visits to her neighbor, Miss Delphine, who "can look right through [a person's] mean spirit and find something the rest of us overlooked." After a few false starts with Harlem, one day Bird sees her chance: a spelling bee. Her teacher has said they must enter the contest with a partner, and Bird sets her sights on the mysterious new boy. O'Connor constructs the first-person narrative in such a way that readers can see why it may be challenging for Bird to make friends; but the girl's conversations with empathetic Miss Delphine also bring out Bird's humor and big heart beneath her rough edges. Slowly, Bird's dreams of "fame and glory" (winning a trip to Disney World as top prize in the spelling contest) become secondary to the real-life highs and lows of being a true friend. Her missteps along the way will be as recognizable to readers as the universal rewards of friendship. Ages 8-12. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Bird's two goals are to get noticed in this town and to go to Disney World. She is ignored and somewhat mistreated by the kids at school and confides in Miss Delphine. Much of Bird's feelings and character comes out through those conversations. Harlem Tate comes to town and has similar problems. Bird tries to partner with him for the spelling bee when she finds out how good he is at spelling. This is a difficult relationship, but it turns out well for both, even though they do not win the spelling bee. Miss Delphine befriends Harlem, his father and the owner of the tattoo parlor over which Harlem and his father live. Family and friends become very important and life starts to look good for Bird and Harlem. This is both a funny and sad story with a happy ending. No doubt many children will read and relate to some of the experiences. 2003, Frances Foster Books/Farrar Straus Giroux,
Gr 4-6-Bird's classmates make fun of her clothes, as well as of the new boy, Harlem, giving the sixth grader reason to try to make friends with him. She and her neighbor Miss Delphine take a pie over to the apartment above the tattoo parlor where he lives with Mr. Moody, who collects cans for a living. Harlem's mother has sent her son to live with his father, whom he cannot recall ever meeting, because her latest husband does not like him. Bird is unable to reach Harlem until she convinces him to be her partner in the school spelling bee. She dreams of winning a trip to Disney World and of gaining "fame and glory." Through numerous practice sessions, the two build a friendship but, unbeknownst to Bird, Harlem has poor eyesight, and during the contest he cannot see words printed on an easel. These memorable characters find ways to work through their shortcomings, use their talents, and help one another. Written in the first person, the book is down-to-earth and satisfying. Readers dealing with acceptance issues will find solace in this story of friendship.-Jean Gaffney, Dayton and Montgomery County Public Library, Miamisburg, OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
When Bird decides to make a friend of Harlem Tate, the big new boy in sixth grade who looks mean and acts dumb, she gets whopped upside the head with a dose of reality. Bird has two goals in life: one, to make the pea-flicking kids notice her; and two, to go to Disney World. With her bowed, skinny legs, toothpick arms, stringy hair, and weird outfits, that first goal isn’t likely, but when she convinces Harlem to be her partner for the spelling bee, the prize trip to Disney World might be within reach. Harlem lives with can-collecting Mr. Moody above Ray’s Tattoo Parlor, where they practice spelling. Surprisingly, Harlem is a talented speller, but blows the contest by running off the stage. Bird’s friend, Miss Delphine, the beautiful young woman next door who cares for her invalid father, persuades Bird to remain Harlem’s friend and unearth his problem. Bird’s original voice has charm, grit, and spunkiness that, combined with small town sensibilities, unique characters, and humor, spell out a winner. (Fiction. 8-12)