Alison McGhee’s Pablo and Birdy is one of those lyrical books you cannot bear to stop reading, even though you’ve read it twice already. I picked it up right after having the same experience reading Katherine Applegate’s Wishtree, and so I count myself a lucky reader these days when we have such gifted writers gifting us one memorable read after another.
The island town of Isla was already famous for its talking birds and for (perhaps) being one of the few places where the mythical Seafaring Parrots come home to roost, when baby Pablo washed ashore strapped to an inflatable swimming pool and guarded over by a fiercely loyal lavender parrot.
Rescued and raised by Emmanuel, Pablo and Birdy are loved and protected by the birds and people of Isla, which he has come to look upon as his home. But, happy as he is, as Pablo nears his tenth birthday, he begins to have questions about where he came from, and who he really belongs to. And Birdy, well Birdy can neither fly nor talk, unlike every other bird on Isla…or anywhere else.
And, as Pablo nears his big double digit birthday, Birdy, too, seems restless. The “winds of change” that stirred up the seas so violently the night Pablo arrived are beginning to rustle up again, and there is a feeling that some of the truth of Pablo’s story, and Birdy’s too, will finally be revealed.
This lyrical, fable like story was such a delight to read, and I loved Ana Juan’s gorgeous illustrations which made it all so much more believable, for, with stories like this, one wants to believe.
Steven B. Frank’s Armstrong & Charlie is such a fun read, even though it touches upon tough issues: death in a family, race relations, and depression.
Armstrong Le Rois and Charlie Ross are not looking forward to sixth grade: Armstrong’s parents have seen fit to sign him up for an opportunity to be bussed to an all-white school in fancy Laurel Canyon where he will know no one, and most of Charlie’s friends at his Laurel Canyon school are leaving just because these new kids are being bussed in.
Both boys have a lot to learn about getting along and seeing that people who seem different on the outside are more alike on the inside than they will ever know unless they take the time to know each other and to learn.
At times laugh out loud hilarious and then deeply moving, Armstrong and Charlie is a wise book, perfect for our troubled times. For, even though it is set in the tumultuous early seventies, many of the questions this story raises about race and prejudice are just as relevant today. This would make a wonderful readaloud or book club selection.