The Boy, the Bird, and the Coffin Maker by Matilda Woods

In the seaside town of Allora, with its vibrant streets, colorful birds, and fish that jump out of the water, Alberto, the carpenter lives alone for years after the plague that swept through the town and claimed his wife and children. Left without all the people who made the town so lively, the brightly painted houses fade and the streets hush.

On the outskirts of Allora, a train speeds toward the desolate town. And on it, a young boy, Tito, imagines all the tales of Allora his mother used to tell–about its beautiful colors and happy residents. Tito imagines a new life as he travels toward Allora.

Later in town, Alberto discovers a boy scavenging for food in his kitchen. With this ragged boy is a mysterious and magical bird. When Alberto tries to help them, however, the boy and the bird flee. But Alberto notices something familiar about the boy’s face and he starts asking questions. Alberto knows he must help the boy, but he has to find him first.

Love and loss are key themes of the story as well as what it means to be family. This magical children’s book is written for kids, but is a story anyone can enjoy for a number of reasons. The finely-crafted characters of Allora are off-beat yet real, the extraordinarily dynamic setting of Allora, and the clever and detailed writing of Matilda Woods, are just a few.

Even the book itself is beautiful and you will be happy to get your hands on a physical copy of it. From cover to cover, the artwork even reflects the magic within. And between its pages, along the margins, blue etchings of birds, flowers, and fish adorn each page. Dispersed intermittently, are full-page white and blue illustrations.

Everything about the book is beautiful so if you are an adult looking for a quick, yet poignant read or a parent in search for a book for you and your child to read together, The Boy, the Bird, and the Coffin Maker may be just the book for you.

Eleka S.

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