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I Am Phoenix


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About the Author

Paul Fleischman's novels, poetry, picture books, and nonfiction are known for innovation and multiple viewpoints. He received the Newbery Medal for Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices and a Newbery Honor for Graven Images, and he was a National Book Award finalist for Breakout. His books bridging the page and stage include Bull Run, Seek, and Mind's Eye. For the body of his work, he's been the United States nominee for the international Hans Christian Andersen Award. He lives in California. www.paulfleischman.net.


During a short career, Fleischman has received rave reviews and awards for his distinctive stories, radically different from each other. Here the author gives way to the poet, his alter ego, composing works that are arranged as duets but can also be relished by one alone, reading or reciting the lines as paeans to birds of various feathers. From dawn to dusk, Fleishchman keeps his ears attuned to the music and messages in the calling of finches, wax wings, condors, sparrows, the passenger pigeon (lamenting over its kin, murdered by the millions), finally the owl who owns the night. The doves of Dodono in Greece sing about people who beseech the goddess for answers; the wandering albatross thinks about shipwrecks, mariners swept into the ocean beneath the bird's wings. There are many other wonders to experience in the echoic, inspiring poetry. Nutt's splendid drawings complement and enhance the words in a singular book. (All ages)

Gr 4 Up Fifteen poems covering the space of a day and the birds active during that day are designed to be read aloud by two voices. Each poem is accompanied by a handsome black-and-white drawing. The collection fails to offer any new insights and degenerates to the merely silly, especially if the attempt is made to read it aloud. The viewpoints expressed and the imagery used (``Doves of Dodona'' or ``The Common Egret'') will mean nothing to most children. Wonderful, accessible poems about birds already exist. Why bother to clutter up the skies with ``Warblers'' (``Warblers warbling /Warblers warbling'') when Edward Thomas' ``Sedgewarblers'' exists? The poem ``Owls'' (``Sun's down, /Sky's dark,'') cannot evoke the mood of Randall Jarrell's poem ``The Bird of Night.'' In this year of Audubon's anniversary, honor the beauty of birds with poetry worthy of thempoems found in collections like Cole's The Birds and the Beasts Were There (Collins, 1963; o.p.) or MacKay's A Flock of Words (HBJ, 1970; o.p.). Kathleen D.u Whalin, New Canaan Library, Conn.

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