cover image The Someday Birds

The Someday Birds

Sally J. Pla, illus. by Julie McLaughlin. Harper, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-244576-6

Charlie feels safest at home in California, where his family tolerates his obsessive rituals and fascination with birds. But home isn’t the same without his journalist father, who is far away in Virginia being treated for a brain injury he incurred in Afghanistan. Charlie hates change and travel, but in order to see his father, he’s willing to endure a cross-country road trip with his twin brothers, boy-crazy older sister, and a pink-haired woman from Sarajevo serving as their chaperone. Both eye-opening and revealing, Pla’s debut novel showcases some of America’s greatest landmarks while tracing a fearful boy’s gradual emergence from his shell as he learns to trust strangers and try new things. Through Charlie’s perspective (it’s implied, though not stated outright, that he has OCD and is on the autism spectrum), readers encounter many natural wonders (including several birds, shown in postcardlike images from McLaughlin), meet fascinating characters, and learn about the connection between the children’s chaperone and their father. Offering a mixture of suspense, mystery, tragedy and humor, Pla’s story captures both the literal and figurative meanings of journey. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Taylor Martindale Kean, Full Circle Literary. (Jan.)