Monday, October 07, 2013

Summer and Bird by Katherine Catmull

After I participated in August's Adult Reading Round Table panel discussion about whole collection readers' advisory, having used bird books in my part of the presentation, several of the ARRT members suggested bird-related books to me, and I read them. One that I enjoyed immensely was Summer and Bird, a fantasy for young readers written by Katherine Catmull.

I was greatly impressed with this first novel. Though Summer and Bird is marketed for young readers, it is very honest and mature in its presentation of problems within families and in its telling of two girls' quests for finding their roles in life. Most readers, however, will not be thinking in such literary terms while reading. They will instead be mesmerized by the unusual story involving two sisters who wake one morning to find themselves abandoned by their parents. Using a drawing left by their mother as a sort of map (the first of several such maps in the book), they set off to find their parents. In the process they pass from Up into Down and encounter many birds.

I wonder how much of this complicated story that young readers understand. Laura in the Youth Services Department at the Thomas Ford Memorial Library explained to me that authors for youth often write for several levels of understanding, including for parents who read to their children among their target audiences. I think that applies here, as the author remarks at the end of the book that this story originated from stories she told while babysitting. I think she created a story that she enjoyed herself while entertaining her young charges. It is a book that I think will interest many adults who enjoy nature-themed fantasy.

Read Summer and Bird with a child if you can. If not, still read.

Catmull, Katherine. Summer and Bird. Dutton Children's Books, 2012. 344p. ISBN 9780525953463.

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