Cover image for The bird house
The bird house
Rylant, Cynthia.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Blue Sky Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 26 cm
An orphan girl finds an unexpected home when she stops to admire the mystery and magic of the birds flocking around an old woman's house.
Reading Level:
AD 680 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.6 0.5 84091.

Reading Counts RC K-2 2.8 2 Quiz: 14928 Guided reading level: K.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Childrens Area-Picture Books
Central Library PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
East Aurora Library PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Eden Library PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Marilla Free Library PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Orchard Park Library PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Williamsville Library PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



Through gentle prose and exquisite paintings, this modern-day fairy tale about an orphan girl and a mysterious house adored by birds delivers a touching message about loneliness and the wisdom and power of nature. Full color.

Author Notes

Cynthia Rylant was born on June 6, 1954 in Hopewell, Virginia. She attended and received degrees at Morris Harvey College, Marshall University, and Kent State University.

Rylant worked as an English professor and at the children's department of a public library, where she first discovered her love of children's literature.

She has written more than 100 children's books in English and Spanish, including works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Her novel Missing May won the 1993 Newbery Medal and A Fine White Dust was a 1987 Newbery Honor book. Rylant wrote A Kindness, Soda Jerk, and A Couple of Kooks and Other Stories, which were named as Best Book for Young Adults. When I was Young in the Mountains and The Relatives Came won the Caldecott Award.

She has many popular picture books series, including Henry and Mudge, Mr. Putter and Tabby and High-Rise Private Eyes. (Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 2^-4. Like Rylant's The Islander [BKL F 1 98], this picture book for older children is a mysterious, slightly melancholy tale saturated with magic and the beauty of nature. A young girl who "had not been happy for a very long time" returns day after day to watch as birds--goldfinches, nuthatches, a great blue heron, and others--flock around a house and the old woman who lives there. One day the birds form the word girl in the sky. The strange incident frightens the girl away, but her love for birds draws her back, and she eventually meets and begins a happy life with the old woman, thanks to the intervention of a majestic owl. Moser's watercolors depict an idyllic setting, with a charming blue country house by a lake and sun-dappled birds and people set against backgrounds filled with dark trees. The blend of concrete, contemporary detail (the little girl wears a T-shirt and overalls) and magical events may puzzle younger readers, but this enigmatic story is an excellent choice for discussion. --Susan Dove Lempke

Publisher's Weekly Review

Together again, Rylant and Moser (Appalachia) here intertwine themes of nature and human loss into a modern-day fairy tale. Cheerless and homeless, a girl is ambling along a river when her sadness is arrested by the sight of a bright blue house thronged by birds: "Sparrows sat on windowsills. Swallows slept in the chimney. Wrens flew in and out. And a great barred owl roosted above the front door." As the girl hides behind a tree, an old woman opens the door; the girl sees nuthatches, hummingbirds and a cooing dove "that followed the old woman everywhere she went." Returning in secret the next day, the girl is dismayed when her presence is sensed‘not by the old woman but by the birds, which flock to the sky and fly in a pattern that says "GIRL." This supple connection between the natural world and the human psyche effortlessly propels the tale and sweetens the inevitable bond between the old woman and the girl. While Moser masterfully creates atmosphere through dappled backgrounds, a robin's-egg-blue Tudor house, exquisitely personable birds and a range of emotions, Rylant relates the story in comfortable yet restrained prose. As an added bonus, her casual observations of distinct habits of birds will unobtrusively inform fledgling ornithologists. A book with wings. Ages 6-9. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-4-A beautiful house in the country that is a haven for birds becomes a refuge for an abandoned girl. The troubled child, who is "without a home or family," happens upon the place and is intrigued by the sparrows, wrens, goldfinches, and other winged beasts that inhabit the environs. Distrustful of humans, she hides when the old woman who lives there appears. The birds seem to have other plans, however, and it is through their actions that the child is brought to the old woman's attention and welcomed into her home. The author skillfully conveys the human connection to the secrets of the natural world. Moser's exquisite watercolors are an excellent match for Rylant's spare prose, a pairing that was also successful in this team's Appalachia: The Voices of Sleeping Birds (Harcourt, 1991). Double-page spreads of the verdant landscape are large and detailed enough to draw viewers into the magical scenes, while single-page close-ups of birds and humans provide a sense of watchful suspense and add visual rhythm to the layout. Each painting is bordered with a thin blue line and set on buff-colored paper, adding quiet elegance to the overall design. Readers will enjoy losing themselves in the mystery of the story and the magic of the illustrations.-Barbara Kiefer, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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