Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Bird in a Box by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Bird in a Box by Andrea Davis Pinkney takes place in a small upstate New York town during the Great Depression and tells the story of three children- Hibernia, Willie and Otis- and how their lives comes together. Hibernia is the daughter of a Reverend and her mother left to have a singing career in New York City and now Hibernia dreams of someday doing the same. Willie and Otis both live in a home for orphans, but only one of them has lost their parents. Willie left home because of his abusive father and is recovering from his injuries, ones that shattered his chances of being a boxing champ. Meanwhile Otis' only family is the radio he listens to every night, his reminder of the mother and father he lost. The three children find hope in the boxing matches of Joe Louis and his potential to become the country's next heavyweight champion, what they don't realize is how Joe will bring the three of them together.

Bird in a Box book is intended for children aged 9-12 and that is definitely the appropriate audience for it. The story deals with an interesting part of history and lets the reader know what that times was like for three different, yet connected, kids. Although it is certainly a novel, each chapter is divided using an illustration like the one on the cover and I thought the pictures were great. Within each chapter the perspective alternates between the three main characters and although the voices were realistic, I did find the story disjointed at times. Each character's narrative was fairly brief, and as a reader, I'd just be getting interested in their story only to have Pinkney switch to another character. Also, while Hibernia's voice was certainly unique I definitely did find the boys blended together at times, probably because of the short chapters following each other. I also didn't understand why Pinkney began the book with a chapter in the future and then went back in time, it made the first chapter very confusing and it felt unnecessary.

With Bird in a Box Pinkney certainly manages to let the reader in on an important part of history, and she even includes a note about what is real and what is fictional in her story which is something I really appreciate with historical fiction. It was also neat that she used real radio dialogue in telling the story, weaving in bits of history that the reader is able to pick up without thinking. The most memorable character was definitely Hibernia, I loved her. She had spunk and sass and she definitely made the novel worthwhile. Unfortunately, I did find some of the character development weak, but it is probably not something I would have picked up on if I'd be within the intended audience age category. Ultimately, Bird in a Box is not only a good way for a middle-grade audience to learn more about the Great Depression, but also a positive book about triumphing against the odds.

Release Date: April 12th, 2011
Pages: 288
Source: Publisher 
Buy the Book

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments make my day!