A Tuesday Ten: Birds of a Feather

Last week it was mice, this week my list is truly for the birds.  From anthropomorphic swashbucklers to wise-cracking parrots, to musically inclined swans, here are ten feathered friends for your week.


The High Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate by Scott Nash  (Candlewick, 2012)

Blue Jay the Pirate is one of the fiercest and most feared pirates of the air.  The bird and his crew on their flying ship leads to plenty of swashbuckling adventure, young heroes and lots of anthropomorphic bird antics.  A strange but delightfully piratical book for those so inclined!


The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White (HarperCollins, c1948)

Everyone know’s E. B. White because of Charlotte’s Web.  And possibly Stuart Little.  But White also wrote this charming story about Louis, a mute Trumpeter Swan who must find his own way to make other swans notice him.  So Louis goes among the humans and learns to read . . . and learns how to play the trumpet!  A marvelously imaginative tale, told with White’s impeccable writing.


Arnold of the Ducks by Mordicai Gerstein (HarperCollins, c1983)

What happens when a family of ducks happens on a lost baby boy in the wilderness?  They take him in and raise him as one of their own, of course!  “Wild-boy” Arnold learns to walk, quack and even fly like a duck, happily living with his adopted duck family . . . until the day he is captured and taken back to his human family.  Can Arnold find a place to be himself and live in both worlds?


Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum (Books of Wonder, c1907)

Did you know that Baum wrote more than one book about the land of Oz? Baum wrote 14 Oz books that chronicled adventures of characters in his magical world.  This is book three of the series, in which Dorothy finds herself adrift at sea with a rather remarkable talking chicken named Billina.  The two eventually find their way back into the fantasy worlds of Oz, where Billina’s remarkably good common sense helps to save the day more than once.


Fly By Night by Frances Hardinge (HarperCollins, c2005)

Mosca and her guard-goose, Saracen just cannot stay out of trouble, and wind up on the run more often than Mosca would like.  I can honestly say that when it comes to fierce and fiery–as well as cranky!–Saracen is your goose.  Despite the fact that he is young Mosca beloved pet, companion and defender, he is hell on webbed feet to just about anyone else.  Both Mosca and Saracen  return in Fly Trap (2010) for further misadventures.


The Capture by Kathryn Lasky (Scholastic, c2004)

What bird list would be complete without mention of  the Guardians of Ga’hoole series?  This epic fantasy involving evil masterminds, ancient legends and plucky orphans is entertaining and highly popular with readers.  There are fourteen books in all that tell the adventures and trials of this group of young friends as they come into their own and seek to change the status quo in their world.


Darkbeast by Morgan Keyes (Margaret K. McElderry, 2012)

In young Keara’s world, every child is bonded to a Darkbeast as a baby.  That creature is supposed to absorb all their worst feelings until they reach their twelfth birthday.  At twelve, a child kills their darkbeast and becomes an adult in the eyes of society.  But Keara doesn’t want to kill Caw, her friend and companion.  And when it comes time for her to do so, she runs away instead.  Now pursued by the oppressive religious order that deals with those who defy the rules, Keara and Caw must find a way to safety for both of them.


Swordbird by Nancy Yi Fan (HarperCollins, 2007)

Epic fantasy with prophecies, war  and a chosen one who will ultimately bring peace to the realm.  These classic elements of fantasy are reworked here within the bird kingdom, where  cardinals and blue jays wage war and only the mythical Swordbird can put an end to it.  This is book one in Fan’s Swordbird Series.


Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual by Kate Sammworth (Clarion, March 2014)

Here’s a new one coming out this year–and one I’m looking forward to reading!  This science fiction picture book for middle grade readers presents a future world in which real birds are no more, so buyers are encouraged to acquire parts and build their own birds–and even teach them to fly and sing.   Can’t wait to check this one out!

Harry’s Mad by Dick King-Smith (Puffin, c1984)

And finally an obscure title from the man who brought us Babe: The Gallant Pig.  In this story, Harry has inherited a parrot from his eccentric uncle.  And this parrot can talk–not just brief words or imitations, Madison (“Mad” for short) is an able and intelligent conversation partner with plenty to say.  Can Harry’s family keep the bird’s extraordinary abilities a secret?

So there are my ten birds books for this week.  What are your favorite bird stories?  Comments welcome!

About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on March 5, 2014, in General Posts, Lists and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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