Written by Matthew Burgess
Illustrated by Shahrzad Maydani
(For readers in Preschool–3rd Grade)
A poet-in-residence in New York City public schools since 2001, Matthew Burgess has written an identifiable story for children who are heading into the unknown territory of returning to in-person school after 1.5 school years that were mostly remote learning.
Nico, our main character, is nervous to start a new school. He feels excluded from the other kids at recess, but finds he is accepted by insects and birds as he sits by himself. When the other students see how birds are drawn to him they call him, “Bird Boy.” Nico interprets this as teasing. Read Bird Boy to see how Nico finds acceptance and understanding and how to be who he was meant to be.
Burgess’ words have a rhythm that easily carries you along Nico’s journey. Shahrzad Maydani’s colored pencil, graphite, and watercolor illustrations are in light muted hues that invite the viewer to join in the journey. If you’ve ever been the new student in a classroom of children, you will relate to Nico’s worries, but also come to appreciate how he navigates his world!
If your child has the willies about going back to school in-person this fall, pick up Bird Boy, a story that inspires any age to “be who you are meant to be”.