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Kid Konnection: Bird in a Box

December 17, 2011

Three young African American children in Elmira, New York in the late 1930s are united by their love of boxing great Joe Louis.  The three children are:

  • Hibernia – or Bernie Lee, as she likes to be called, lives with her preacher daddy and dreams of singing at the Savoy
  • Willie – leaves home to live in the Mercy Home for Negro Children because his mother wants to get him away from his father’s abuse
  • Otis – an orphan who lives at the home and treasures his father’s old radio

The three children meet when Bernie’s choir presents a concert at the orphanage.  They all follow Joe Louis’s career closely and they’re hoping he can do what no black man has done before – win the heavyweight championship of the world.

Bird in a Box, by Andrea Davis Pinkney, is a historical fiction book for middle grade readers.  Young readers will fall in love with the fabulous characters and learn something along the way.  I have to admit a fondness for Bernie and her spunk, but I enjoyed all three of the main characters for different reasons.  Even the secondary characters, like Bernie’s father and a woman who works at the orphanage deliver in this book.

The story in Bird in a Box is a good one too.  In today’s world, it’s hard to comprehend the pride the African American community felt in Joe Louis, but it came through in this book.  I could feel the excitement and tension in the air as everyone huddled around the radio to listen to the fight.  I, of course, knew the outcome of the fight before I read it in the book, but young readers won’t and I think they’ll be eager to flip through the pages to find out how things end.  As an added bonus, the author has included a wonderful note in the back and given short bios on real people and places included in the book.   Bird in a Box makes history and community come alive and I found it charming.

For more children’s books reviews, go to Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week,  leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

Review copy provided by Hachette Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
15 Comments leave one →
  1. December 17, 2011 4:42 am

    Sounds like a great read – and what a beautiful cover too!

  2. December 17, 2011 8:02 am

    This does sound good! I love books about sports, even though I don’t like sports at all!

  3. December 17, 2011 8:05 am

    This one sounds like it captured the era and people very well. I’m enjoying reading more historical fiction for MG and YA lately.

  4. December 17, 2011 8:30 am

    This sounds like a darling book!

  5. December 17, 2011 9:56 am

    I love historical fiction for middle grade readers, and think that this one sounds excellent! I am so glad that it was an exciting and interesting read for you! Great review today, Kathy!

  6. December 17, 2011 10:33 am

    This sounds like a wonderful read!

  7. December 17, 2011 2:38 pm

    Wonderful review, Kathy!! 🙂

  8. December 17, 2011 3:39 pm

    This one sounds delightful! And I love it that it was written well enough that middle graders can relate to it.

  9. December 17, 2011 3:44 pm

    I love kid books with spunky characters.
    Kids will really love this book.
    Thank you for a lovely review!!!

  10. December 17, 2011 8:30 pm

    Sounds like a great way to teach some history to kids in an interesting and involving way.

  11. December 17, 2011 9:47 pm

    this sounds fascinating…I think this would be a great historical fiction book for middle-grade readers. Thanks for the review.

  12. December 18, 2011 4:57 pm

    I think this one sounds wonderful and this is a great author!

  13. December 18, 2011 5:47 pm

    This sounds like a super book! I’ll have to read it before sharing it with my 9-year-old. The orphanage setting may be off-putting for her (so sensitive!)

  14. December 19, 2011 7:42 pm

    While I’m not big on sports, this sounds like a really great read. Love the sound of it.

  15. December 20, 2011 7:52 pm

    Sounds soooo good and powerful. Thanks for sharing!

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