A Parent’s Choice Award Gold Member Winner
A boy who drifted into the seaside town of Isla as a baby searches for answers about where he and his parrot came from in this “memorable, fantastical tale” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) from New York Times bestselling author Alison McGhee.
The seaside town of Isla has many stories, the most notable being the legend of the Seafaring Parrot. Locals claim that the Seafarer remembers every sound, every whisper, cry, laugh, or snort ever uttered. But, though there have been rumored Seafarer sightings, no one has actually seen the bird before. Other stories surround a boy named Pablo, who had washed up on shore in a blow-up swimming pool as an infant with only a lavender parrot as a companion. Now, on the eve of his tenth birthday, the stories are repeated.
“At first I thought it was a huge fish,” Emmanuel, the man who found and took Pablo in, says. Pierre, the baker’s guess was a good one: Perhaps Pablo has come from an undiscovered country, one unknown to the rest of the world. Maybe the inhabitants there lived in tree houses, or underground. Or maybe he’s a pirate baby. But Pablo wants the truth, and the only one who might know it is Birdy, his parrot. After all, she was there, holding onto the raft. But unlike most birds who live in Isla, Birdy can neither talk or fly. Or, at least, she never has. Until…one day, when strong winds begin to blow—winds similar to the ones that brought Pablo to shore—Birdy begins to mutter. Could Birdy be a Seafaring parrot? If she is, then she will be able to tell Pablo the true story of where he came from—of who tied him so lovingly and safely to that raft? But, if she is, that also means the second part of the Seafarer myth is true…that Seafaring Parrots will, eventually, fly away.
As Pablo is buzzing with questions, hopes, and fears, an old saying echoes in his mind: winds of change mean fortune lost or fortune gained. And while the winds rise in Isla, Pablo holds tight to Birdy. Would losing his companion, his dearest link to his past, be that loss?
Pablo was a baby when the "winds of change" guided him to the island of Isla, an inflatable swimming pool as his raft and a protective, curiously colored bird by his side. As Pablo's 10th birthday approaches, his frustration over his lost history flares while Birdy remains flightless and silent. Then the winds of change and their promise of "fortune lost or fortune gained" return to Isla, this time bringing a pastry-thieving dog and a reporter seeking a mythical seafaring parrot, as well as strange behavior from Birdy. McGhee's (Firefly Hollow) tender tale of the search for home, belonging, and identity smoothly incorporates elements of magical realism and powerful allusions to the refugee experience; for various reasons, most of Isla's residents have chosen to make new lives there, something Pablo questions in hopes of better understanding his own past. Playful humor, often involving the Committee a group of chatty, free-roaming birds that judges the fashion choices of passersby and stirs up trouble deftly counterbalances the emotional weight of this moving tale. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8 12. Author's agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties.