In Faith’s debut middle-grade reader, elements of fantasy are used to share a conservationist message.
Brother and sister Vinny and Jess have a history of helping out injured birds near their home. In return for their kindness to their feathered friends, they are rewarded with an extraordinary gift: Father Dove briefly turns the two children into robins. During their transformation, the siblings meet a variety of different birds and learn how to fly. But there is trouble afoot as plans move forward to build a road through the woods: Trees will be cut down and many birds will lose their homes. Vinny and Jess must help their bird friends put a stop to the project. Though the book gets off to a slow start, things pick up when Vinny and Jess meet Father Dove and begin their adventures with the birds. Some poetic license is taken with avian life: Eschewing simple nests, these birds live in elaborate structures built inside of trees. Likewise, the variety of birds met in the novel are a bit more colorful than one would traditionally find in a British wood. But readers carried away by the adventure will likely not be troubled by such details. Occasional heavy-handed exposition—“Nor did they know at that moment in time, just how much they could help him, that in fact it would be them that would find the clue to saving the birds and saving the day”—disrupts the flow of the story, as does the book’s rushed ending. Although a relatively tame story, a villainous rook and raven make for a few scary scenes. (The two troublemakers suffer dearly for their bad behavior.) Still, at heart this is a story about cooperation among unlikely allies.
A fun animal story that provides important messages to children about helping animals and protecting nature.