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

Pablo and Birdy

Pablo and Birdy

Spring 2017 Fiction
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: Alison McGhee
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781481470261
Hardcover Price: $17.99

Birdy has been Pablo's best friend ever since Pablo can remember. As Emanuel, Pablo's adoptive father, tells it, when he found Pablo washed up on the shore of Isla tied into an inflatable child's pool, Birdy the parrot was right there holding onto the twine, protecting Pablo. Unlike all the other parrots on Isla, Birdy never speaks, and she never flies. But everyone on the island knows that the winds of change are coming. These strange winds, which arrive every ten years, herald the possible coming of the fabled Seafaring Parrots, who can fly over miles of open ocean and who can hear and reproduce the voice of anyone who has ever lived. Change seems to be coming for Pablo and Birdy, too. Pablo is increasingly frustrated with the pretty stories everyone tells him about his origins, but Birdy is the only one he can talk to about it, since he doesn't want to hurt all the people who love him. And Birdy has been acting strangely, pulling her feathers out in distress. Pablo has some mysteries to solve—about Birdy and about his own past—and he needs to do it without harming any of the ones he loves.

Pablo and Birdy is, quite simply, a beautifully told story. Pablo is a complex, resilient, compelling character who becomes a friend to the reader as we watch him battle through his anger and confusion. His friendship with Birdy is thoughtfully and convincingly evoked. Birdy is not a cute anthropomorphic sidekick; she and Pablo are deeply bonded, and yet are also clearly alien to each other, in ways that Pablo has to come to recognize. This story has something to appeal to all readers—a search for identity, family, fantasy, humor, and love. Ana Juan's lushly shaded pencil illustrations enhance the atmosphere of realism tinged with wonder.

Naomi Lesley   ©2017 Parents' Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

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