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Bird [Hardcover]

Crystal Chan
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.99
Price: 9.41 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Kindle Edition 4.20  
Hardcover 9.41  
Paperback 4.42  
Audio, CD, Audiobook 25.13  
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Book Description

30 Jan 2014

'Grandpa stopped speaking the day he killed my brother, John. His name was John until Grandpa said he looked more like a Bird with the way he kept jumping off things, and the name stuck. Bird's thick, black hair poked out in every direction, just like the head feathers of the blackbirds, Grandpa said, and he bet that one day Bird would fly like one too. Grandpa kept talking like that, and no one paid him much notice until Bird jumped off a cliff, the cliff at the edge of the tallgrass prairie, the cliff that dropped a good couple hundred feet to a dried-up riverbed below. From that day on, Grandpa never spoke another word. Not one.

The day that Bird tried to fly, the grown-ups were out looking for him - all of them except Mom and Granny. That's because that very day, I was born.'

Twelve-year-old Jewel never knew her brother, but all her life she has lived in his shadow. Then one night, on her birthday, she finds a mysterious boy sitting in her oak tree. His name is John. And he changes everything.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Tamarind (30 Jan 2014)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1848531230
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848531239
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 18.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 787,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"The extraordinary debut novel by Crystal Chan juggles a possible suicide, a mute and terrifying grandfather, astronomy, geology, betrayal and love with elegance and guts . . . The best thing about Bird isn't just its cultural uniqueness - not many kids' novels are about duppies, or Jamaican evil spirits - but how this excellent book feels like it actually happened." (Guardian)

"Crystal Chan's debut is a heartbreaker, a children's book with the potential to move readers of any age. Anyone who has ever felt like a cuckoo in the nest will be grateful for this assured, unsentimental novel." (Metro)

"Simultaneously sad and lovely, this is one of the best middle grade books we have read in a long time." (The Bookbag)

"In a thoughtful debut, Chan weaves together topics of race, repressed emotion, and destructive family dynamics, setting events against the beauty of the Midwestern landscape. Jewel's gentle voice offers moments of insight and wisdom as she becomes empowered to move beyond her parents' losses and desires." (Publishers Weekly)

"Beautifully written literary debut novel about families and secrets, with a hint of magic." (Bookseller)

"An emotional story, beautifully told in the first person" (Parents in Touch)

"Jewel is a multilayered, emotional character who struggles to come to terms with her family's issues. The mixture of superstition and science creates a wonderful juxtaposition in this powerful story about loss and moving on." (School Library Journal)

"Wonderfully steeped in her culture, Jewel's story is as rich as the scenery around her . . . A surprising story about superstition, loss and family that impresses and enchants." (Booktrust)

Book Description

'Crystal Chan's debut is a heartbreaker, a children's book with the potential to move readers of any age' - Metro

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreakingly beautiful 10 Feb 2014
By Jo
When I first heard about Bird, I was so intrigued. You only have to read the above to think, "Woah!" And wonder what happens next, what this does to a family. I was so eager to read it, and so glad I did. Bird is such a moving story!

Twelve years have passed since Bird's death, yet Jewel's home is still so full of grief. Bird may be dead, but he's not gone. He's there in Grandpa's silence, in Jewel's mum's endless sadness, in her dad's obsession with duppies - evil spirits. Despite no-one speaking about Bird, or allowing Jewel to do so, the Porter's hearts are so heavy with grief, Bird can be felt in the tension that permeates the whole house. There is so much of Bird in that house, to Jewel, it feels as though she is often forgotten, even though she's the one that's alive. She tries so hard to be good and make her family happy, but it's as if they just don't see her. But once she meets John, things change; John sees her, John hears her, John understands her, and his friendship changes her.

Bird is such a heartbreaking story. Jewel is full of her own sadness because of the lack of love she feels. John offers her a glimmer of hope, of what it's like to have someone who wants to talk to her and take an interest in what she has to say, something she doesn't really experience at home. There is so much sadness in this book, you could reach out a hand and touch it. You can understand it, because how awful would it be for a parent to lose a child, but you can't help feeling so sorry for Jewel. She can't do much right.

Bird is full of beautiful imagery and language. Jewel is very philosophical and quite deep for her age, and the way she views things and describes things... it's just remarkable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars truly inspiring tale [...] 6 Mar 2014
I really do feel like I say, well what can I say at the beginning of a fair number of my reviews and I am sorry for that. All I can say is OH MY! Bird will suck you in from the very beginning.
I would say I would give one lucky winner my copy but I have to say I adored this book sooo much that I shant be able to part with this gem. It's not a very long read but it does cover a number of subjects including: Grief, Friendship, Family, Loneliness, Forgiveness, Acceptance, Secrets, Lies, Self Confidence, Adoption, Death, Life and fear...Jewel is a girl I instantly like and I feel sorry for her as she is forever living in the shadows of her brother Bird/John who she doesn't know, as he died on the day she was born. Poor Jewel is forever in his shadow, and she doesn't feel like she's good enough. No child should feel that way.
Most of the story is about Jewel but along the way, us readers discover more about her family and the relationships within her superstitious family.
What I really loved about Jewel is that considering so much is kept from her she's an intelligent free spirit, regardless of what her family think of her, and she knows exactly what she wants from life. Jewel is also prepared for whatever hardships that come her way.
Bird is a truly inspiring tale that really makes you think about your own life your hopes and dreams.

When Jewel meets John she's instantly in awe of him, he's clever and he talks to her like an equal not like a child. She's never met anyone like him and she's never had a real friend.
Although when she finds out he has a secret she feels betrayed and stupid. So she hurts John in the only way she knows by hitting out. There are soooo many OMG moments with Jewel, John her parents and her grandpa. This book is sooo different to anything else out there and if you're not deeply moved by Jewel's tale then you really are heartless.

A lovely book that must make your to be read pile NOW GO AND READ BIRD.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bird 11 Feb 2014
By Jenny, Wondrous Reads TOP 500 REVIEWER
Bird is an unusual book, one that seems fairly unique and new. It's a lovely story steeped in superstition, about a family still mourning the death of their five-year-old son some years earlier. The day Bird flew off the cliff was the day Jewel was born, and this is the story of what came after.

Jewel's family has been forever changed by those events at the cliff. Her grandpa hasn't uttered a word since, her parents are still infinitely sad and she feels alone in what should be a big, loving family. Although Bird is gone, and has been gone for some time, he's still very much alive in Jewel's house. One day she meets a boy near her tree - a boy called John, the same name as her brother - and it isn't long before her family's tightly-woven facade begins to unravel.

Bird is one of those books that just needs to be read. It's a beautifully written account of an endless struggle, as well as that of a much-needed friendship. Jewel is a fantastic, headstrong character who has to carry a lot on her small shoulders, but she doesn't give up and she never forgets the brother who still haunts her family.

This book is, at times, incredibly sad, but it leaves in its wake a great big smile and a pocketful of hope. Jewel's family survives, with her unwavering help and support, and she realises that old superstitions and folk tales are not the be-all and end-all of life. Instead she relies on the Earth and its well-formed rocks to guide her, as well as Bird, the lost boy who will forever be in flight.
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