Blue Birds by Caroline Rose Starr

Tweens Read Thursdays

Alis is just a twelve year old English girl, but she is making an historic journey to the new world with her family. Unknown dangers and adventures await her, but the thing foremost in her mind is reuniting with her beloved uncle. When the colonists meet with tragedy on the island, the only thing that gives Alis some measure of peace is the wooden bird her uncle carved for her. Desperately, she takes her bird and seeks solace in the forest that is forbidden to her. It is here she forms an unlikely friendship with a native girl named Kimi. Eventually Alis must make the most difficult choice of her young life: she must choose between friendship and family.

From the moment I heard about this book I was excited! I have been a history buff for all of my days and am especially intrigued by historical mysteries. Roanoke has always held a fascination for me. How could an entire colony vanish without a trace? Starr Rose diverts the focus from this central question and instead places an emphasis on the everyday life of the people and the natives of Roanoke. She weaves a beautiful tale in an engaging verse format from the alternating perspectives of Alis and Kimi. There were sections of this book where it felt like time had slowed. I held my breath during those moments and heard only a heartbeat while I read those mesmerizing lines. Conversely, I experienced the horror and despair of the characters to such an extent that I considered laying the book down and not picking it up again. This would have been a mistake. However, Blue Birds did not leave me feeling satisfied, as if I had eaten a tasty meal. Rather I felt like I had consumed one of Kate Dicamillo's "Littmus Lozenges," with the "sweet and sad...all mixed up together" and " separate...out." (See Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate Dicamillo.)  I could not give Blue Birds a star ranking if I tried, but I will say this: Read Blue Birds and exult in its glorious moments, but expect sorrow mingled with joy and possibly a bitter aftertaste.


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