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by Zetta Elliott
Illustrated by Shadra Strickland

Published by Lee & Low, 2008
40 pages
ISBN: 9781600602412

Ages 8-12

Gray skies and bare branches are the somber winter backdrop for a serious picture book about a young boy trying to make sense of tragedy and sadness. Mehkaiís nickname is Bird, and birds are one of the many things he likes to draw. He also likes spending time with Uncle Son, an old friend of his grandfatherís. ďI like talking to Uncle Son ícause he treats me like Iím grown, not like Iím some little kid who canít understand anything.Ē Bird talks to Uncle Son about what happened to his older brother, Marcus, who taught Bird to draw and always encouraged him. But Marcus began taking drugs, and as the sickness of addiction overwhelmed him he was less and less the brother Bird knew. Bird wanted to know how to fix Marcus, but his Granddad explained some things canít be fixed. Marcusís death was followed by the death of Birdís heartbroken grandfather. Now Bird finds solace in drawing pictures, listening to Uncle Son, who tells him a story about their African American ancestors flying to freedom, and thinking about his brother and grandfather ďhigh above the clouds, where everything is calm and still.Ē  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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