A couple of weeks ago, I finished reading Summer and Bird, a children’s novel by Katherine Catmull. Summer and Bird is the story of two sisters who are pulled into the world of Down, the kingdom of the birds, where they must confront the secrets of their mother’s past and their own future. If you’ve read The Conference of Birds by Peter Sis, Catmull pulls a lot on the myth Sis illustrates here.
I have to admit, it was the cover that made me pick this one up. The book is beautifully designed, with bird-patterned end papers and a bird design on each of the chapter title pages. I still occasionally read children’s novels, if they’re something really special, and I could tell right away that this one was special.
The book is even more beautifully written – a well-crafted, heart-breaking modern fairy tale that is as much about the meanings of love, family, home, and sacrifice as it is about beauty and magic. The story of Summer and Bird’s family, one whose roots, Catmull writes, “teachers have heard far too often,” is the story of a family who clearly loves one another, yet finds themselves drawn apart and unable to mend. Despite their parents’ broken relationship and their own hardships in the world of Down, Summer and Bird are able to courageously join together to bring the birds of Down to their home.
This is a book I’ve been thinking about ever since I put it down. It had me crying at several points in the novel, and after finishing Summer and Bird’s story, I find myself paying more attention to the magic of life and love. I would highly recommend this novel for fans (young and old) of fairy tales and writers such as Kate Dicamillo.
Summer and Bird on Barnes and Noble’s website: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/summer-bird-katherine-catmull/1109230112?ean=9780525953463