Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

My Dad's a Birdman

My Dad's a Birdman

Fall 2008 Fiction
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: David Almond
Illustrator: Polly Dunbar
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN: 978-0-7636-3667-8
Hardcover Price: $15.99
The backdrop of this story - a husband, and father, struggling after the death of his wife - could have made for damp reading, but David Almond uses it as opportunity. Death is a natural part of life and while his father and daughter characters grieve, they also reclaim their lives in a bold and beautiful way.

Young Lizzie's father is unkempt. He won't dress or shave and stumbles late out of bed, forcing her to play the adult. But he's got a plan, a grand one -- he's going to be a bird. And as he giddily abandons the dull tethers of real-life, every child reading along will be thrilled.

People can't fly, but does it matter? Lizzie decides not and joins him, and the two of them enter the Great Human Bird Competition. They fashion their wings from real bird feathers found in the garden, they build a nest to relax in. Lizzie's dad even trains on a bird diet of flies, beetles and worms.

While other contestants come equipped with fancy rockets and catapults, Lizzie and her dad show up with nothing more than their giant bird wings and faith, all to the consternation of sweet Aunt Doreen.

Together father and daughter make a great leap, and have the time of their lives. The author puts it beautifully in lines just after the big flight: "They looked with joy at each other. They looked with joy into their memories and their dreams." Almond's message of faith and possibility is lovely.

Teresa DiFalco   ©2008 Parents' Choice
Teresa DiFalco is an award-winning ghostwriter, writer, and mother in Vancouver, Washington. She's been a contributing editor for Parents' Choice for over ten years. She's a strong speller, a menace at badminton, and makes a decent soufflé.

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