Review Blog

Aug 15 2019

Extraordinary birds by Sandy Stark-McGinnis

cover image

Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781526610874
(Ages: 9-12). Recommended. Themes: Foster care, Families, Birds, Bullying. A truly heart-warming story that gives the reader insight into the life of a child in foster care. December is eleven and has been to many foster homes in her short life. She firmly believes she is a bird and will soon develop wings to allow her to fly away, she just needs the right tree from which to launch. She has fallen from many trees in her quest to find the one that will encourage her wings to sprout from the large scars on her back.
Her biological mother left her behind when she was 5 with the scars and a book called The complete book of birds: volume one. Therefore, December's knowledge of birds is encyclopaedic and the facts that the author uses constantly throughout the book add another layer to the story for her young readers. December uses facts about birds to categorize the people she meets or what they are doing, helping her make sense of her ever-changing world.
December's self-sufficiency and independence means she is often a target for school bullies and this subject is also covered in the story, bringing in a character that December befriends at school who is a boy transitioning to a girl. Her relationship with Cheryllyn helps her character develop to trust other children and form her first close friendship. Not getting too close to people is something she has been very good at through her life as it makes moving on so much easier.
When December is placed with Eleanor, who also loves birds she is not sure if she can let go of the story that has given her life meaning for so long and finally find a place where she belongs. Eleanor gives her the space and care she needs to come to the realisation she can be part of a family and be happy.
Gabrielle Anderson

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