Bird by Zetta Elliott

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Young Mekhai, better known as Bird, loves to draw. With drawings, he can erase the things that don't turn out right. In real life, problems aren’t so easily fixed.

As Bird struggles to understand the death of his beloved grandfather and his older brother’s drug addiction, he escapes into his art. Drawing is an outlet for Bird’s emotions and imagination, and provides a path to making sense of his world. In time, with the help of his grandfather’s friend, Bird finds his own special somethin’ and wings to fly.

Told with spare grace, Bird is a touching look at a young boy coping with real-life troubles. Readers will be heartened by Bird’s quiet resilience, and moved by the healing power of putting pencil to paper.

Bird, the recipient of Lee & Low's New Voices Award Honor, is the first picture book of both Zetta Elliot and Shadra Strickland.


About Zetta Elliott

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Zetta Elliott was born and raised outside of Toronto, Canada, but has lived and taught in Brooklyn for over ten years. An educator and a writer, Elliott has published numerous works of poetry, plays, essays, and childrena (TM)s books, including Bird, her critically acclaimed picture book, which was released in 2008. Shadra Strickland studied, design, writing, and illustration at Syracuse University and later went on to complete her M.F.A. at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She won the Ezra Jack Keats Award and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in 2009 for her work in her first picturebook, "Bird", written by Zetta Elliott. Strickland co-illustrated "Our Children Can Soar", winner of a 2010 NAACP Image Award. She teaches illustration at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD. Visit her online at
Published October 1, 2008 by Lee & Low Books. 48 pages
Genres: Travel, Children's Books.

Unrated Critic Reviews for Bird

Kirkus Reviews

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Sherman's March, 1980, and The Long Surrender, 1985, has here produced a volume whose early effective chapters will remind many readers of Black Sun, Geoffrey Wolff's 1976 biography of Harry Crosby--another WW I vet obsessed with death.

Oct 30 1987 | Read Full Review of Bird

Kirkus Reviews

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His late Granddad’s friend responds to Bird’s despair with quiet strength: “You can fix a broken wing with a splint / and a bird can fly again / But you can’t fix a broken soul.” Elliott’s sensitivity for her subjects resonates with Strickland’s distinctive mixed-media art.

Sep 01 2008 | Read Full Review of Bird

The New York Times

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16, which prohibits ''descriptive passages'' and ''literary dallying.'' But the book is the better for it, because the descriptive passages in ''The Final Solution'' -- in particular those on Holmes's beekeeping -- are exceptional, on par with the best, most tightly written sections of Chabon's l...

Nov 14 2004 | Read Full Review of Bird

The Kenyon Review

We were only to look at the dark water, only to talk around and at, to nod at the three other people who were there on the hill at night, to stop a moment to lean into the bars around the reservoir and then to resume walking.

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