By Ginny Moore Kruse, Emerita Director, CCBC

[Bird’s] complexity challenges anyone who wants to do it justice with mere words. . . . Bird’s conflicted responses to Marcus’s anguished need to satisfy an addiction are tempered by the elders who become his mentors, his family. Granddad and Uncle Son empower Bird by telling him about their people, further connecting him to a larger African American family. The illustrations effectively suggest a visual narrative for this moving collection of unrhymed poems. In this picture story for readers of elementary school age and older, the artwork is rendered in watercolor, charcoal, gouache and pen. Bird’s challenging journey toward understanding is clarified because the artist used color to differentiate Bird’s experiences from the boy’s own drawings always shown in black and white. By seeing an urban landscape and reading about a boy who begins to soar by using his evolving gifts of observation, astute readers might also notice multiple meanings in words and pictures for Bird, birds and flight. All deepen the impact of this stunning debut for both the author and the artist. —Ginny Moore Kruse, Emerita Director, Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC)