Pablo and Birdy by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Ana Juan

       Pablo and Birdy by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Ana Juan, Atheneum, 2017. 9781481470261

Format: ARC

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre:  Fiction

What did you like about the book? Set on a fictional island in a warm climate, this atmospheric and charming novel is about the meaning of family. Pablo and his bird, Birdy, washed up on the shores of Isla when he was just a baby. As he approaches his tenth birthday, Pablo feels that his friends don’t appreciate how hard it is to have no knowledge of his origins. Even though he is surrounded by loving adults, Pablo yearns for connection to his past. The only one who knows is Birdy, a parrot, and Birdy is unable to tell him. Tension builds as news of the strange winds that blew when Pablo came to Isla are forecast to come again, and with it, news of the mysterious Seafaring Parrots. Eccentric characters, including a committee of birds, who seem like a Greek chorus, and a starving dog that seems to have a connection with Birdy, make this gentle character-centered story a lovely read. The fact of Pablo arriving as a refugee from unknown shores is an echo of news headlines about migration. Whimsical black and white pencil drawings affectionately flesh out the cast of characters.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Offer this to readers in grades 3-7 who like gentle fiction, with a hint of whimsy, and with eccentric animals as characters, and for those interested in social themes around migration and refugees.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: June 11, 2017

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