Hardcover: $19.95


By Zetta Elliott
Illustrated by Shadra Strickland

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.

Bird, the recipient of Lee & Low's New Voices Award Honor, is the first picture book of both Zetta Elliot and Shadra Strickland.

Check out activities and discussion topics for Bird in the Coretta Scott King Book Awards 2009 Discussion Guide created by the 2009 CSK Book Awards Committee.

Inspire a philosophical exchange over Bird with these discussion questions created by the University of Washington Center for Philosophy for Children, which is dedicated to bringing philosophical inquiry into schools.

About the Creators

Thumb_thumb Zetta Elliott - Author

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. To learn more about Zetta Elliot, visit her at or at her blog, Fledgling.

Thumb_thumb Shadra Strickland

earned her MFA at New York’s School of Visual Arts in the Illustration as Visual Essay program. She currently freelances as an illustrator and a graphic designer, and uses drawing as a way to interpret her world. Strickland lives in Brooklyn, New York, and can be found on the Web at or at her blog, Living the Dream.

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Hardcover: 9781600602412


Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in Illustrations

Notable Children's Book
American Library Association (ALA)

Best Books
Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
Kirkus Reviews

Ezra Jack Keats Book Award

Children's Books of the Year
Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC)

Celebrate with Books
Cleveland Public Library

Editor's Favorites
The Bloomsbury Review

Paterson Prize for Books for Young People
The Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College

Starred Review
The Horn Book

Story Telling World Award
Storytelling Magazine

West Virginia Children's Choice Book Award
West Virginia Library Commission

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Guided Reading:




Interest Level:

Grades 3 - 8

Reading Level:

Grades 3 - 3


Middle Grade, Siblings, Mentors, Grandparents, Families, Coping with Death, African/African American Interest, Art, Empathy/Compassion