Zetta Elliott Bird

ISBN 13: 9781600602412

Bird

4.31 avg rating
( 491 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9781600602412: Bird
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Young Mekhai, better known as Bird, loves to draw. With drawings, he can erase the things that don't turn out right. In real life, problems aren't so easily fixed. As Bird struggles to understand the death of his beloved grandfather and his older brother's drug addiction, he escapes into his art. Drawing is an outlet for Bird's emotions and imagination, and provides a path to making sense of his world. In time, with the help of his grandfather's friend, Bird finds his own special somethin' and wings to fly. Told with spare grace, Bird is a touching look at a young boy coping with real-life troubles. Readers will be heartened by Bird s quiet resilience, and moved by the healing power of putting pencil to paper.

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About the Author:

Zetta Elliott is an accomplished poet, playwright, author, and African American studies scholar. As a young girl she loved to escape into a good book and began writing as a way to create 'a world that was better than my own.' Elliott lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Review:

Nicknamed Bird at birth, Mehkai idolizes his older brother Marcus. As they mature, both brothers excel in art. However, Marcus's drug experimentation spirals into an all-consuming addiction. While Bird's drawings are intricate and controlled, Marcus's colorful graffiti sprawls, depicting a bird in flight. Bird's conflicting emotions about Marcus authentically reflect his African-American family's turmoil when his brother dies. His late Granddad s friend responds to Bird's despair with quiet strength: 'You can fix a broken wing with a splint / and a bird can fly again / But you can't fix a broken soul.' Elliott's sensitivity for her subjects resonates with Strickland's distinctive mixed-media art. Shifting perspectives and colors reflect Marcus's deepening addiction; his signature cap alters accordingly. Off-kilter lines exude the random energy and volatility of an addict. In two powerful double-page spreads, a doorway separates the brothers; Bird, flooded in light, reaches for Marcus, but his brother remains in the darkness. With unusual depth and raw conviction, Elliott's child-centered narrative excels in this debut. --Kirkus Reviews

The illustrations, rendered with a delicate touch in watercolor, gouache, charcoal, and pen, emphasize the textual theme of resilience in adversity, even while Marcus's appearances are often shrouded in a palette of grays. Bird's own pencil drawings of city life and the repetition of Marcus s symbolic bright cap add interest and meaning to the visual narrative. From a first-time author and illustrator comes a sad truth of contemporary life successfully leavened with hopeful optimism. --School Library Journal

In a promising debut for both Elliott and Strickland, this picture book tells a poignant story about a boy whose loving family, friends and a gift for drawing help him navigate difficult emotions surrounding the deaths of his grandfather and drug-addicted brother. A complicated weaving of impressive watercolor, gouache, charcoal and ink drawings amplifies the metaphors and action of the poetic text as it combines black-and-white with color. Never straying from believable language in casting Mehkai, the child, as narrator, Elliott skillfully unfolds the sequence of events. Both art and text nimbly play with Mehkai's nickname, Bird, beginning with the image of a shivering bird that, like his brother, seems to be blown away by a gust of wind, and continuing with Uncle Son's attempt to explain the brother's death: 'You can fix a broken wing with a splint,/ and a bird can fly again/ But you can't fix a broken soul.' --Publishers Weekly

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Elliott, Zetta
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Zetta Elliott, Shadra Strickland (Illustrator)
Published by Lee & Low Books (2008)
ISBN 10: 160060241X ISBN 13: 9781600602412
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