The Birdman
The Birdman
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Annotation: When his family dies suddenly, Noor Nobi, a humble tailor in Calcutta, India, finds a way to mend his broken heart by purchasing, healing, and releasing illegally caged birds. Based on a true story.
Catalog Number: #3583287
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Publisher: Tundra Books
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition Date: 2006
Illustrator: Galouchko, Annouchka Gravel,, Daigle, Stephan,
Pages: 32
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-88776-740-0
ISBN 13: 978-0-88776-740-1
Dewey: E
LCCN: 2005910622
Dimensions: 28 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
This lavishly illustrated title offers a hopeful story about surviving grief. In the crowded streets of Calcutta, Nobi, a tailor, works hard to support his family. Then his wife and children are killed, and Charles describes the tragedy in a single, spare sentence: He was working when the accident happened e accident that took them from him forever. After weeks of immobilizing anguish, Nobi buys some caged birds at the market, sets them free, and finds some of his weighty sorrow released. Eventually, he earns the neighborhood title of Birdman. Charles, who based her vivid, poetic text on a true story (explained in a lengthy afterword), is frank about the pain of loss, but focuses on the uplifting message that acts of kindness can ease grief. The illustrators extend the story's spirit-healing themes in vibrant folk-art paintings, gloriously patterned with flowers, Hindu symbols, and soaring birds. For more about coping after a loved one's death, suggest Alan Durant's Always and Forever (2004); Uma Krishnaswami's Monsoon (2003) gives another picture-book view of India.
Kirkus Reviews
Noor Nobi makes dresses for children on his sewing machine in Calcutta to support his own three children. When they are taken from him in a terrible accident, he is in despair. But he goes to the market and purchases, with the smallest of sums, a tiny, sickly bird, and releases it back to the world. He is so moved by this act that he goes to work at his sewing machine with renewed strength, and every Monday releases the birds he has purchased and nursed back to health. Basing this on a true story, Charles ends her tale with a long afterword about the real birdman and his new family. It's a bit disconcerting that there is no explanation of how Noor lost his children, and the text is rather stilted. However, the illustrations, done in gouache in brilliant jewel-like hues, have elements of magical realism in their pattern and geometry and combine with the theme of the story to lift the reader's spirit. (Picture book. 6-9)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-This story, set in Calcutta, is based on a real person. Noor Nobi sews clothes to support his three children. When they are lost in an accident, he is overwhelmed with despair and unable to work. Weeks later, while walking through the market, he notices the cages crammed with birds, and he longs to free them. With the little he has in his pocket, he buys one of them and releases it in the shade of a banyan tree. Resolved, he works harder than ever before to earn money to buy more birds. With a new mission in his heart, he returns the next week to purchase as many as he can, nursing the frail ones back to health so he can set them free. The author includes background information on Noor Nobi and photographs of her visit to India and to the tailor's workshop. Spectacularly illustrated in gouache, this story of grief turned to compassion is lovely to look at and elegantly told.-Alexa Sandmann, Kent State University, OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (10/1/06)
Kirkus Reviews
School Library Journal
Wilson's Children's Catalog
Word Count: 1,408
Reading Level: 4.7
Interest Level: K-3
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.7 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 112193 / grade: Lower Grades

Noor Nobi is a broken man, wandering the streets of Calcutta with no reason to live. His three children, snatched from him in a cruel accident, were everything he worked for and loved. But one day, he enters a crowded market and sees a bird, caged and frightened and sick. With very little money in his pocket, he waits until the vendor is closing up.

Quickly, Noor Nobi bargains and, happy to get anything for the sickly thing, the vendor accepts his offer. For some reason Noor Nobi cannot explain, it is important for him to nurse the bird back to health. When it is finally able to fly, Noor Nobi takes his bird to a big Banyan tree and releases it. Only then is he able to weep and fully grieve for his children.

Before Noor Nobi knows it, he is back at work and taking his weekly earnings to the market where he continues to buy, heal, and free as many birds as he can. Crowds gather; some laugh and say he is crazy, some stand reverently, some don’t know what to think. But Noor Nobi’s kindness saves a growing number of birds, and the birds, in turn, give him new purpose.

Author Veronika Martenova Charles read a short newspaper article about the “Birdman” of Calcutta and her imagination took flight. She traveled to India, found Noor Nobi, and witnessed the freeing of the birds for herself.

The Birdman is a touching, true story, tenderly illustrated by Annouchka Gravel Galouchko and Stéphan Daigle. It is accompanied by an afterword, diary entries, and photographs of the author’s experience.

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