Bird in a Box by Andrea Davis Pinkney

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 6 Critic Reviews



Otis, Willie, and Hibernia are three children with a lot in common: they've all lost a loved one, they each have secret dreams, and they won't stop fighting for what they want. And they're also a lot like their hero, famed boxer Joe Louis. Throughout this moving novel, their lives gradually converge to form friendship, family, and love. Their trials and triumphs echo those of Joe Louis, as he fights to become the heavyweight boxing champion.

Andrea Pinkney masterfully weaves in factual information about Joe Louis and actual radio commentary from his fights, enriching the narrative of this uniquely rendered and beautifully written novel.

About Andrea Davis Pinkney

See more books from this Author
Andrea Pinkney is the author of many award-winning books for children. Many were collaborations with her husband, illustrator Brian Pinkney. She is also an editor at Scholastic. They live in Brooklyn with their two children. Sean Qualls is the illustrator of a number of celebrated books for children, including Before John Was a Jazz Giant by Carole Boston Weatherford, for which he received a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor, and Dizzy by Jonah Winter, an ALA Notable Book, a Kirkus Best Book, and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. He has also illustrated Little Cloud and Lady Wind by Toni Morrison and her son Slade and Giant Steps to Change The World by Spike and Tonya Lee, which will be published in January 2011. Sean lives with his wife, illustrator Selina Alko, and their two children in Brooklyn, NY.
Published April 12, 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. 267 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction, Sports & Outdoors, Education & Reference. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Bird in a Box

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

Even before they meet later in the story, the young trio is linked by their radios, bringing them Gang Busters, The Lone Ranger, Fibber McGee and Molly, Jack Benny, the Chick Webb Orchestra from the Savoy Ballroom and, most importantly, Joe Louis, the Brown Bomber, whom they understand is “fighti...

Mar 02 2011 | Read Full Review of Bird in a Box

The New York Times

See more reviews from this publication

De la Peña’s succinct text and Nelson’s intensely beautiful paintings don’t require much more time than Louis needed for Schmeling.

Apr 08 2011 | Read Full Review of Bird in a Box

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

Famed African American boxer Joe Louis, whose matches Bernie, Willie, and Otis listen to on the radio, serves as both a powerful symbol and unifying thread in the story (“When Joe Louis fights, it’s more than just throwing punches,” Otis’s mother tells him.

Jun 13 2011 | Read Full Review of Bird in a Box

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

and Otis’ connection to his father by hearing the big fight on his beloved Philco—is written so tenderly and joyfully that I was left, as Otis is when he hears Hibernia sing, with “gladness big in my heart.” Uh-huh and oh yeah.

May 13 2011 | Read Full Review of Bird in a Box

Historical Novel Society

Both books tell stories in which adults fail children who depend upon them, and in which society fails minorities.

| Read Full Review of Bird in a Box


While purportedly about boxing and the making of a heavyweight champion, BIRD IN A BOX manages to be so much more than that --- it is an ode to the human spirit, an engaging story about human relationships, and a history lesson about an important time in U.S. history in general and African-Americ...

Feb 14 2012 | Read Full Review of Bird in a Box

Reader Rating for Bird in a Box

An aggregated and normalized score based on 20 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review