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
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 ZettaElliott.com or at her blog, Fledgling.
is the illustrator of several children's books including Lee & Low's Bird, winner of the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in Illustration. Along with illustrating and writing stories, Strickland loves to make drawings during her travels around the country and the world. She lives in Baltimore, where she also teaches illustration at Maryland Institute College of Art. Her website is jumpin.shadrastrickland.com.
About This Title
Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in Illustrations
Notable Children's Book
American Library Association (ALA)
Ezra Jack Keats Book Award
Children's Books of the Year
Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC)
Celebrate with Books
Cleveland Public Library
The Bloomsbury Review
Paterson Prize for Books for Young People
The Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College
The Horn Book
Story Telling World Award
West Virginia Children's Choice Book Award
West Virginia Library Commission
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
Part of These Collections
African American English Collection Middle School, Realistic Fiction Middle School, English Fiction Middle School, English Fiction Grades 6-12, New Voices Award Winners & Honors Collection, Art and The Arts Collection , High-Low Books for Preteens (Grades 4-6), High-Low Books for Teens (Middle and High School), Sibling Collection Grades K-5, Bestsellers and Favorites Collection, Death & Grief, 25 Years Anniversary Collection, RITELL Grades 3-6 Collection