Bird Boy

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Pub Date 9 May 2024 | Archive Date 2 Jun 2024

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“Vivid and deeply empathetic, Catherine is a wonderful storyteller” - Phil Earle

“A wonderfully moving story about the healing power of nature, perfect for fans of Phil Earle and Katya Balen” - Anthony McGowan

“Unputdownable. A gift to nature loving young people” - Hilary McKay

“Moving and powerful, I loved it” - Gill Lewis

The award-winning author of No Ballet Shoes in Syria, Catherine Bruton returns with a powerful new tale of migration, friendship and the healing power of nature - perfect for 9+ readers.

Sent to live with his uncle after his mother’s death, Will’s new home in the mountains couldn’t be more different from the high-rise flat he grew up in. Unrooted in the world, Will isn’t sure how he’ll survive a place like this with its overwhelming, endless openness.

With his new friend Omar – a refugee from Afghanistan – Will discovers an osprey nest, with two small chicks inside. He forms an unbreakable bond with the birds, especially the smallest chick, who they name Whitetip. But when Whitetip is knocked out of the nest during a storm and breaks a wing, Will is determined to save her. Smuggling her down from the mountain, he finds a way to keep her alive.

As Will helps Whitetip to grow and to heal, he finds a strength inside himself that he never knew he had. Maybe, finally, Will can find a way to take flight too…

“Vivid and deeply empathetic, Catherine is a wonderful storyteller” - Phil Earle

“A wonderfully moving story about the healing power of nature, perfect for fans of Phil Earle and Katya Balen” - ...

Advance Praise

Praise for Catherine Bruton

A moving, textured story” - The Times

A gem of a book” - The Sun

This is moving, rich and empathetic storytelling” - Metro

This is a beautiful and captivating story” - Scottish Book Trust

Brilliantly vivid, with a wonderful cast of characters” - Sunday Express

An uplifting story about friendship and kindness” - The Week Junior

A fast-moving gothic adventure that will enthral” - Books for Keeps

Catherine Bruton is one of our best and most versatile writers for young people” - Anthony McGowan

Praise for Catherine Bruton

A moving, textured story” - The Times

A gem of a book” - The Sun

This is moving, rich and empathetic storytelling” - Metro

This is a beautiful and captivating story” -...

Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9781839946493
PRICE £7.99 (GBP)

Available on NetGalley

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Average rating from 23 members

Featured Reviews

H Is For Hawk for Middle-Grade readers. Both heartbreaking and uplifting, this book is filled with valuable insights into mental illness, the healing power of nature, grief, the refugee experience, and finding family, all wrapped up in a perfectly structured story and elegant prose. I can't think of a single off beat in the entire novel. I read it all in one sitting, went through a box of tissues, and was left feeling moved and hopeful.

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Wow, what a rollercoaster of emotion. I sobbed at the end. An extremely well written story handling grief, loss, young carers, immigration, with care and showing the powerful healing community and nature have.

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I could not put this down and was completely invested in the characters of Will, his new friend Omar, Uncle Ian and of course the Ospreys. The emotions portrayed throughout the book capture perfectly the complexity of grief and that sense of feeling in limbo. Each character experiences their own very different journey in their own way. I can't wait to recommend this to children in my school who I know will love it as much as I did.

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From the outset Bird Boy is a moving and beautiful story.

This is the story of Will; his mum has recently dies and he's been sent to live with his Uncle Ian in the countryside- a contrast from his previous life; living in a tower block and home schooled for two years as his mother developed phobias and anxieties about life in the world outside home- 'protecting ' them by isolating from wider society . However, Will's mum did give him the wonder and love of wildlife and a knowledge of the bird world with the help of a guidebook and binoculars.

The move to the countryside is traumatic for Will . He befriends Omar, a refugee from Afghanistan and also with a love of the natural world.
Their friendship leads them to an amazing discovery - a family of rare ospreys. Highly protected birds, an incident leads to the boys having to
'illegally' rescue a young bird and save it from death. Omar gives Will the name, "Bird Boy". Their covert adventure soon leads to other problems resulting a community coming together. There is recognition of Barry Hines' superb classic- Kestrel for a Knave

Catherine Bruton's professional understanding of young people's grief and loss is palpable within the pages and the descriptions about the osprey's recovery and flight are truly fantastic

This is a story about anxiety, suffering, loss and transition - but even more so this is a book about the healing power of nature, a book about friendship and understanding and ultimately a story about family and belonging.

This is a book for readers 10-14; those with a love of nature but also a book that shows how through adversity life can move forward. A book to read alone or dynamic class read.

A TV adaptation has to be considered... an absolute winning novel
Highly recommended

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Fabulous story about the uplifting power of nature.

When Will’s mum dies & he has to go & live in the country with his uncle, he thinks that life will never be the same again & he can’t forgive himself for letting his mum down.

When he meets Omar, a refugee from Afghanistan, he realises that everyone carries scars from their past.

Caring for a baby osprey changes everything for Will, as he comes to terms with his past & begins to see hope for the future.

Although I’m not generally a great fan of animal books, I loved this author’s previous book, so decided to give it a try & I’m so pleased I did. It works as both a good story in its own right but also has a powerful message about forgiveness & healing. Highly recommended.

I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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'Bird Boy' is a hopeful and deeply moving novel for young people about trauma, loss, migration, and the healing power of nature. After his mother's death, Will is sent to stay with his uncle in the Lake District. Will has a passion for birds, and along with his new friend Omar (a refugee from Afghanistan), he discovers an osprey nest containing two chicks. When one of these chicks falls out of her nest and breaks her wing, Will and Omar find themselves caring for her in secret.

Bruton explores a number of serious issues through Will and Omar's stories, including bereavement, mental illness and migration. Both Will and Omar see caring for Whitetip the osprey chick as a way of coping with the other traumas they have faced, and both are wary of trusting adults after their previous experiences, but ultimately learn that they must ask others for help.

This is a beautiful novel which is great for older primary and younger secondary readers, both because of its gripping plot and emotional impact. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me an ARC to review.

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This is such a lovely book. We read this together with the children and it had us all crying. It is such a compassionate book dealing with grief, fear of change and the healing power of nature. We cannot wait to buy a real copy to add to our carefully curated book shelves.

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I loved this book. The characters were well developed and you rooted for them. This book lets children see how different and difficult childhood can be for some children and should evoke empathy for both Will and Omar. Furthermore, it highlights the importance of engaging with nature to boost your mental health. A very moving, touching book which I feel my class would really enjoy and I will be recommending. It reminded me of some of Katya Balen's books, she's another great children's author.

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Catherine Bruton has written a beautiful book on the power of nature to heal.
Will is broken. His mentally unwell mother has just died and he's moved out of the city to live with his uncle Ian who is a part of a mountain rescue team - deep in the mountains. Will didn't know that Uncle Ian existed and reeling from his mother's death and her previous illness Will finds himself having to be outside and go to school after two years of being bound to their highrise flat.
But Will is obsessed with birds. Bruton avoids clichédapproaches to liberty and freedom but Will does recognise the freedom that he's missing. What emerges from this wonderful Nosy Crow book is an exploration of the powers of nature to heal even the most broken. Uncle Ian is a vetran of the Afghan wars and as an air rescue pilot of a helicopter he can find ways to continue with his passion for flying but in a way that brings help not hell.
Exploring broken people of a wide variety, Will's new friend Omar is a wonderful character, Bruton focuses on not the being broken but on the ways that community and nature can mend them. Gorgeous descriptions of landscape as well as a wonderful rensition of young 12 year Will's experiences and perceptions make this a beautiful book for a class read or to share with Year 7 and 8.
Incredibly moving and thoughtfully explored, Bird Boy is a strong recommnedation from me. It should do well in awards season - I really hope it does.

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When 12 year=old Will's mum dies in a accident, he is sent far away from his high-rise home in the city, to stay in a remote Lake District village with an uncle he's never met, while he waits for a permanent home with his grandparents in Australia.

With echoes of The Secret Garden and A Kestrel for a Knave, Birdboy has the feel of a timeless classic. Perhaps what is referred to these days as a quiet book, it never feels quiet. Will's beautifully rendered story pulses with a sense of place, vivid characters and a perfectly-paced revelation of his traumatic past, as it collides with his current quest to save an injured osprey chick and nurse it (and himself) back to health.

By turns heart-rending and joyful, Catherine Bruton's deceptively simple prose provides a tender exploration of mental illness, grief and the role nature and human connection can play in recovery.

A book which will linger in my heart.

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for providing the chance to listen to the audiobook version of this title.

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I have read several of Catherine Bruton's other novels, but 'Bird Boy' is my favourite. Touching on a range of topics including mental health and child carers, this is a carefully nuanced read for children in year 6-year 8. A gripping read, I found myself cheering for Will to succeed as he made all the wrong choices for all the right reasons. Far more than a 21st century update of Barry Hines' classic story 'A Kestral for a Knave', 'Bird Boy' deserves a place in every school library. Thank you to Netgalley for my ARC novel, I will definitely be buying copies for my school library.

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A lovely, delicate and empowering exploration of several difficult themes about grief, change and anxiety.
It is beautifully told - it is life and nature affirming, and promotes resilience and friendship.

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A moving and searingly emotional read, reminded me of the classic A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines. I loved No Ballet Shoes in Syria and this is just as good!

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This story is just stunning - a beautifully written and compelling story for younger (and older) readers themes of nature, grief, friendship and family, and love. I felt all the emotions reading this, and it took me back to my love of nature and classics such as A Kestral for a Knave, but with a much better ending. This is definitely a classic in the making, and a story with characters I adored and know I'll want to reread and lose myself in the beautiful connections between the characters and nature.

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A wonderful new book by Catherine Bruton. Touching and beautiful. I know this will be loved by my class.

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A great read. As soon as I finished, I started to think about how I could fit in reading it to my class! Bird Boy is definitely not an easy read but in showing the impact of trauma on children, and their potential to heal, it is an important one. Whereas the themes are tough, the prose is effortless to read.

Two children from massively different backgrounds, both dealing with huge amounts of trauma, come to live in a valley in the Lakes.

Will’s mother has recently died in an accident. She was suffering terribly with mental ill health before her accident and Will, removed from school and isolated from everyone, was in a very vulnerable and difficult position- not wanting to let his mum down but not getting his needs met.
Omar is a refugee from the conflict in Afghanistan. He made a dangerous journey to the UK and does not know the status of his loved ones.

The boys are brought together and bond over their appreciation of birds. For both boys, birds represent a connection to a happier past and to family.
Life in the valley takes a surpising turn when they happen upon a family of osprey. One of the baby birds is thrown from her nest during a storm leading the boys into a battle to keep her alive.

Parallels are drawn between the baby bird, Whitetip, in the hands of her would-be saviours and Will and Omar’s lives in the British countryside, learning to trust, learning to hope again.

When the baby bird becomes ill in their captivity, Will begins to experience flashbacks to his mum when she was critically ill in hospital- it’s at this point we learn more about the horrors he has experienced and the thoughts he is harbouring.

In Bird Boy, we see the healing potential of nature; storytelling as catharsis; and the need for consistent, patient, trustworthy adults who give children with trauma time and the tools to heal. Will’s mother’s mental ill-health is dealt with sensitively and with empathy but it is also a stark depiction of how children can become very vunerable, where a lone parent becomes seriously ill in this way. Catherine Bruton is keen to foreground stories of refugees and the story of Omar here is another brilliant counter-narrative to the newspaper headlines.
Anyone should consider the themes of the book ahead of reading or recommending to children.

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