William Loizeaux. Farrar Straus Giroux, $16 (138pp) ISBN 978-0-374-34802-1
Loizeaux's (Anna: A Daughter's Life, for adults) affecting first children's book, set in the summer of 1960, traces a 10-year-old's relationship with a baby bird he finds in the road. Nick, who narrates, makes a home for the struggling creature in a box that he places in the shed behind the house he shares with his widowed mother. The boy uses his imagination to converse with the bird, which he names Marcy. After some time, she accepts the worms Nick and his friend Mate offer and gradually grows stronger. On one momentous day, Marcy takes flight for the first time, and the young narrator experiences conflicting reactions: ""I was feeling so many things-good, bad, happy, and scared-that I couldn't really tell what I was feeling."" Nick's emotions soar when Marcy flies high overhead and then returns to him, ""with her wings so wide, like open arms, racing home to me. Mate said it was a miracle. I said it was magic. And Mom, who I think got it most right, said that it was love."" Subplots involving his mother's blossoming relationship with a kind handyman and ailing Granddad's death help the tale take wing. In an especially poignant scene, Nick's wise mother, taking a cue from Tennyson, comforts her son after Marcy flies away: ""You loved what you'd lose with all your might. And the love, I think, is worth the sorrow. You can't have the one without the other."" Bowman's pleasing halftone illustrations augment the narrative's emotional impact. Ages 7-10.
Reviewed on: 09/04/2006