A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Summer & Bird is a dazzlingly inventive, beautifully told fantasy about two girls on a quest to find their parents in a magical universe. First-time author Katherine Catmull's dense, evocative style may be a barrier to some readers, while it will delight others. The story is sometimes scary, with danger a constant presence and violent death befalling some characters. At various times, a number of characters are kidnapped and held prisoner. Bird characters die at the hands of dire forces. The story also delves compellingly into emotional territory that may be too intense for some young readers -- vanishing parents, love and hate between family members, destructive relationships.
What's the story?
Summer and Bird are two sisters, 12 and 9, who live with their parents in a house in a meadow near the forest. They wake one morning to find the house freezing cold and their parents disappeared, with nothing but a mysterious picture message from their mom to tell what's happened. When they go off in search of their mom and dad, they find themselves in a different world of talking animals, mythical creatures, and new dangers, where they're quickly separated. The quest for their parents leads them to the evil Puppeteer, who's enslaved the birds, and to many unexpected revelations about their family and their own destinies.
Is it any good?
Densely crafted, wildly imaginative, and beautifully realized, SUMMER & BIRD is a complex book with a deliberate, convoluted narrative voice. Its magical realism requires some suspension of disbelief as it moves seamlessly between the world we know and debut author Katherine Catmull's invention, where girls and birds converse and cosmic forces are at work. Catmull also explores plenty of real-life emotional territory, from jealousy and sibling rivalry to catastrophic loss and the love that binds a family. Evocative artwork by Lori Thorn on the cover and inside pages adds to the accessibility of the bird world.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the characters in Summer and Bird, and their conflicted relationship. If you have brothers or sisters, does this ring true to you?
Why do you think stories of kids finding their true destiny in an alternate world are so popular?
Would you have written a different ending to the story? How would you have had things turn out?
- Author: Katherine Catmull
- Illustrator: Lori Thorn
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Fairy Tales, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Dutton Children's Books
- Publication date: October 2, 2012
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 17
- Number of pages: 384
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 13, 2017
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.