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Bird (book) facts for kids

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Bird Book Cover.jpeg
Author Zetta Elliott
Illustrator Shadra Strickland
Published 2008
Publisher Lee & Low Books
Awards New Voices Award Honor

Bird, written by Zetta Elliott and illustrated by Shadra Strickland, is a picture book written in 2008. It won the New Voices Award Honor from its publishing company Lee & Low Books Incorporation.

Background & Setting

Zetta Elliot is a poet, author, and obtained a doctorate degree in American Studies from NYU. She wrote Bird as a short story in 2006 before working with illustrator Shadra Strickland to turn it into a picture book in 2008. It is her first publication, and has won many awards. Bird is an African American story that contains elements of African folklore and touches on death and mental illness.

Plot Summary

The book narrates the story of a young black boy named Mehkai. His nickname is Bird, given to him by his Grandad. However, when his granddad passes away, Mehkai grows close to his grandad's best friend named Uncle Son. Together they go to the park, feed pigeons, tell stories, and drink coffee.Bird loves to draw to remember and better understand things in his life. His favorite thing to draw is, of course, birds. Flashing back in time, Bird describes his brother Marcus who was a graffiti artist that taught him to draw. However, Marcus introduces difficulties to the plot by becoming distant and showing signs of drug abuse. Bird doesn't quite understand what is happening to his brother and wants to spend more time with him, but Marcus is adamant in telling Bird to continue to go to school. One day, Bird finds Marcus in bed showing withdrawal symptoms. He is confused and worried for his brother. Marcus lessens his appearance at the house and one day robs the house of its expensive belongings. His father explains to Bird that Marcus is suffering from a sickness and that he is no longer allowed home. Bird finds it difficult to obey his parents and speaks to Marcus at the front door when their parents aren't home. Turning to Granddad for advice, Bird learns that "'some broken things can't be fixed". When Marcus passes away and Granddad shortly after, Uncle Son and Bird begin to go to the park every week. During these outings, Bird learns to find peace with the loss of his brother and his Grandfather, and he continues to draw in hopes to learn from his experiences and never forget.


  • Mehkai (Bird)- The main character and narrator of the story, also known as Bird by his Grandad.
  • Uncle Son- The best friend of Mehkai's Grandad, and a philosophical companion to Mehkai when his Grandad passes away.
  • Grandad- Mehkai's Grandfather and a mentor to Mehkai. He passes away at the end of the book.
  • Marcus- He is Bird's older brother and someone that Bird looks up to. However, he struggles with a drug addiction that leads to his death at the end of the book.
  • Mama- Bird's mother
  • Papa- Bird's father.
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