Pablo and Birdy

It's been almost 10 years since the rare "winds of change" washed Pablo ashore on the island of Isla. Secured in a children's inflatable pool with Birdy, a lavender-colored parrot, clasped tightly to the ropes that moored him, Pablo found safety in the island community. Emmanuel, Pablo's Cuban adoptive father, and the other citizens of Isla have carved out a life for the boy and his pet complete with love, encouragement and imaginative stories about the pair's origin. Every year on the anniversary of Pablo's arrival, they celebrate his birthday, but this year Pablo doesn't want fictional accounts or a made-up birthday. He wants to know the truth about where he came from.

Closely entwined with Pablo's story is the legend of the Seafaring Parrot, a bird that recalls every sound ever made. Emmanuel explains, "I've been hearing about Seafarers my whole life, and I'm a grown man who's never seen one. People have claimed to see them out at sea, but who knows if they're real or not." As the island's forecast looks more and more like the "winds of change" are returning, everyone is talking about finally discovering the elusive bird.

Alison McGhee (Tell Me a Tattoo Story) beautifully weaves Pablo's search for his identity into the myth of the Seafarer, accentuating it with an island of delightfully eccentric critters--the Committee, an eclectic flock of birds brimming with personality; a scraggly stray dog; and of course the humans. The words of her sweet tale mix with brilliant splashes of color in illustrator Ana Juan's striking drawings, and together McGhee and Juan portray how "the winds of change mean fortune lost or fortune gained," even though it isn't "always easy to tell [what's] lost and [what's] gained." --Jen Forbus, freelancer

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