Summer and Bird
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Summer and Bird

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3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  450 ratings  ·  156 reviews
An enchanting—and twisted—tale of two sisters’ quest to find their parents

When their parents disappear in the middle of the night, young sisters Summer and Bird set off on a quest to find them. A cryptic picture message from their mother leads them to a familiar gate in the woods, but comfortable sights quickly give way to a new world entirely—Down—one inhabited by talking...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Dutton Juvenile
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TheBookSmugglers
Once upon a time, a young man fell in love with the beautiful Swan Queen. He stole and hid her swan robe and the Queen fell in love with him because he had part of her soul.

Once upon a time (and at around that same time) a dancer wished for nothing more than to be the Queen of the Birds. She found the hidden Swan Queen’s robe and took it away leaving the Swan Queen stranded as a human and her bird-courtiers bereft and lost. The dancer became the bird’s Regent and a Grand Master of Events.

Once up...more
Isa Lavinia


I spent ages looking for this book and I finally got it for my birthday, I was so happy! Well...

This is a very difficult book to rate. First of all, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the writing itself - it's beautiful and it manages to be both whimsical and serious, which is a feat unto itself. Those 2 stars? That's all the writing.

The thing is, the pretty writing was all that kept me reading. I couldn't connect with the characters at all, there was little to differentiate the way the si...more
Audrey
Summer and Bird is a lot like a Neil Gaiman novel, and that said, it will appeal to a wide age range. It's about two girls who's mother is the Queen of the birds, and who has suddenly found her lost swan skin that will allow her to retake her bird form. She runs away to lead the birds to their true home, and her two daughters race to follow her into Down, a parallel world to ours where everything is a lot more magical. The youngest, Bird, has always felt like she should be a bird, and that is he...more
Rebecca Lunny
This is one of those books I think everyone should read. Does it have some flaws? Yes, of course it does. The very, very end was unsatisfying but everything else was great.

I think, maybe, that this was one of those books that came around at just the right time for me. I identified with one of the main characters, Summer, so hard that it hurt some times: the big sister who is not-so-secretly jealous of her younger sister's untameable ways.

"All their lives, Bird had been the difficult one, the unm...more
Janelle
This story has crept under my skin. It invaded my heart and brought tears to my eyes. At times I was enthralled with it, and at times I was angry. My rating, that has gone up to five and down to three, is now resting calmly on a four.

I typically like to read Disney-like fairytales. The ones where the prince and princess fall in love and live happily ever after with the sweet forest animals to forever be their friends. But, like the book says, those scenes with Cinderella and her helpful bird com...more
Littlebearries
Characters:
Summer: One of two main characters, Summer is the older sister. Summer is responsible and big-sisterly... trying to take charge and control the situation when their parents disappear. I really enjoyed every chapter from Summer's perspective... and even though she could be annoying at times (in the "I'm older than you, so we'll do what I say" kind of way that big sisters have) ... it was character appropriate annoyingness, which only made her character stronger.
Bird: One of two main ch...more
Ananya
This book was overall mediocre, but it could've been great. It was heavy, dreamy, and hardly phenomenal, but had the potential to be...the lovely, descriptive, intricate prose was wonderful, but the parenthetical narration was annoying and unnecessary. Next, the ideas were very good, of the Puppeteer and the World Tree and the parents pulled together and apart, though excessively bird-centered. The themes, of the puppets and who you really are, were artfully done. However, it lacked any characte...more
Janet
In Katherine Catmull's eloquent debut novel, Summer and Bird are two girls facing a time-honored fairy tale trial: their parents have run away to the Woods, and so they go on a quest to find them and to bring them back home. This story doesn't have a Disney style fairy tale's cheerful adventures, persistent cuteness, and the promise of a happy ending. Instead Summer and Bird uses an unsettling and grim magical realism that reminded me of del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth. Magical realism isn't a common...more
Julia Glassman
I really wanted to love this book--and I did love many parts of it. But the beginning and end were just too damn long. Lots of beautiful imagery and folklore and zero plot progression, with lots of arbitrary obstacles to stretch it out even more. The climax in particular is extremely convoluted and confusing. If I were a ten-year-old, I'm not sure I would have gotten through it.
Mary
I'm not going to be able to write a quick, short review or summary of this book. It is not a simple plot or character-driven story. It weaves many characters, conflicts, and ideas together through multiple interconnected and dreamlike settings (Up and Down, forest, plain, river, swan castle, attainable border of the birds, the Green Home) in language that is arrestingly beautiful, highly figurative, and descriptive. The story combines mythology, fairy-tales, childhood rhymes, a few diary entries...more
Aeslis
Summer and Bird is not what I expected, but I am happier for having read it. Summer and Bird are the daughters of the swan queen, and accidentally fall into Down, the world of birds. There, they are split apart by circumstance, and younger sister Bird meets the Puppeteer, a conniving woman who seeks to overthrow the queen to become queen herself. She poisons Bird's mind and makes promises she will never keep. Meanwhile, older sister Summer meets a mysterious man that teaches her to look deeper,...more
Nicole
Dutton Children's Books, 2012
Fantasy
344 pages
Recommended for grades...Well, I don't really know!

Some quick things first: Catmull pulled the lucky card on her cover art, because this cover is stunning. And can we just take a moment to mourn all the excellent books out there that have the most awful covers EVER? I truly don't know what some publishers are thinking. Anyway, the cover is what drew me to this book at the book store. The blurbs were enticing, and I was truly wanting to find out what t...more
Rachel
I thought this was beautiful written, evocative, well-imagined. I like that the problems posed weren't easily solved, that even once the characters were able to make their explanations to each other, the hurt and confusion still lingered and had to be worked through, just like in real life. I might have wished for a 'happier' ending, but I appreciate the reality of it, that it doesn't just tie up the character's lives in a neat bow- after all none of them are ninety, they still have a lot of lif...more
Amanda
I loved the whimsical, fairy-tale, fable-ish prose. It has that Narnia thing going on, where really dark and difficult themes and ideas are packaged and made palatable to kids through the language (well, some kids- there are scenes in the book that I wouldn't have been comfortable hearing until I was on the far end of the middle grade spectrum). The only qualm I have is that it's a bit TOO Narnia-Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland, to the point where it can feel derivative. The villain here is a...more
Wandering Librarians
One morning Summer and Bird wake up to find their parents gone. Following a picture message their mother has left, Summer and Bird find themselves in and underground world of birds, where their Queen, a swan, has been missing for 13 years. In her place is the Puppeteer, who has plotted to take over, if only she can have the swan queen's robe. Separated, Summer and Bird go on very different journeys, each seeking her heart's desire.

The story is loosely based on a number of fairy tales where swans...more
Jonelle Patrick
I just finished Summer & Bird. It’s brilliant. But not because it’s beautifully written (which it is), or a lovely story (which it becomes) – it’s great because somewhere along the line, no matter who you are or where you come from, you see your own hopes and fears and desires and dilemmas through the eyes of the two sisters who are trying to put their world back together.

Summer and Bird make their way through a landscape that is nothing like ours, and everything like ours. Who hasn’t found...more
Audrey Coleman
This week, I read a book called Summer and Bird. It is about two girls who wake up to find their parents missing; and the door in the back of their parents closet was wide open. Summer and Bird have never in their life seen the door open. In the closet, there was a picture letter that had a sun, a bird, a gate, a heart, and a swan on it. Later that day, the two girls ventured out to the forest to look for their parents. Eventually, the girls get lost and cant find their way back to the house. W...more
Katy
This is more like a 3.5/5 or a 7/10 for me. After reading the first couple of chapters I was sold on the mystery and on my emotional attachment to these girls. I also was enjoying the lyrical writing. It reminded me in the beginning of Cat Valente's writing style in the Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland, and that is one of my favorite books EVER. So I fully expected to be totally invested in the rest of the book. Except I wasn't. There was a lot of repetitiveness and lyrical writing seemed grat...more
Jess
This is a beautiful and surprising book that I'm so glad I found. This was on the giveaway table at work and I picked it up in the midst of a sort of book hangover after reading the Song of Ice and Fire series. I was still so immersed in that world, with my head caught up with those characters, that I felt at a loss for what to read next.

The imagery is so evocative that it curled right into my heart. I love stories that feel like this: fairytales that are dark and true and embrace the natural w...more
Max
This one took me a hundred pages or so to get into. And there were times when I wondered, with its two female protagonists, if it didn’t have enough male appeal for me (not exactly sure what I mean by that, except that there’s lots of talk of sisterhood and forest animals which aren't exactly my cup of tea).

But ultimately I found it a really poignant story of a family falling apart and working to come back together as best it can. With plenty of fantastical imagery and beautiful and delicate wri...more
Marquina
Catmull creates an interesting world, but I felt the story lacked some depth and character development. I liked the general outline and ideas about a magical bird-run world called Down (separate from the world we live in, called Up), but felt the story had some gaps. Separately, I didn't like how the father character is utterly helpless, and that being a 'bird' or "queen" is deemed of utmost importance. I think there is a general trend for girls today to want to be 'birdlike' - frail and thin, n...more
Zen
Feb 17, 2013 Zen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
Two brave little girls walk into a forest, looking for their parents. My heart breaks for them. They enter a secret world that only birds know, where they get separated. My heart breaks again. By the time I finished reading this book, as you can imagine, my heart was a mess. I don't want to talk about it. If you're up for an emotional meltdown over birds and girls and trees and queens and songs-that-are-maps and maps-that-are-songs, Summer and Bird is the book for you.
Alan
Abandoned at page 120 because of lack of interest and/or concern for whatever may happen to either Summer or Bird.
The idea that their mom is the queen of birds and can change forms from bird to woman is an interesting one much like the idea of a Selkie being able to take off their skins and appear human is, and has been for many years. It was the journey of the girls, their trials that lost my interest.

Michelle King
I would rank this one no stars if possible. The book moved at such an excruciatingly slow pace that I gave up on it halfway through.

Two sisters wake up one morning to find their parents are missing, so they start out on a quest into the forest to find them. Apparently, the mother is really a swan who can change back and forth into human form and the younger daughter, Bird, just longs to be a bird. Yeah. Yuck.
Holly
This is a beautiful book, full of imagery and symbolism. It is about family, love and the ties that bind us to others and to ourselves. It is about sisterhood and the jealousies and bonds held. But it is also very very different, hard to follow and a bit weird. I don't think my kids would enjoy it at all, nor do I know anyone who would. It's creative story is a bit too creative to relate to.
Charlou Lunsford
This should have been a book I loved. It's an expanded fairy tale with some darkness. The language is pretty. It's an intriguing world. And yet, I put it down many times because I wasn't always engaged. Maybe it was just too full of words. Maybe it was too rambling. Maybe it's that issue I have with so many "J" level books right now, it was just too long for what it should have been, could have been.
Jennifer Estepp
My super-intelligent take on this: there's a lot I like here. There is also a lot that bugged the crap out of me. Plus, a wee bit slow/overly long, so that by the end I really didn't care anymore and just wanted it to be over. But also! Some lovely bits of craftsmanship. So. Yeah.
Guin
Unbelievable. Extraordinary characters, wonderful writing, it just filled up my bones. Absolutely incredible. An all-ages book, written in a way that actually appeals to all ages, with an honesty that is only found in the best of the genre. Please read this.
Claire Legrand
Reading this beautiful book was like discovering a secret part of my soul. I understand this book, and I feel like it understands me, as weird as that is to say. It's a sad, joyous, heartbreaker of a story, and one that will linger with me for a long time.
Lisa Nagel
Oct 13, 2012 Lisa Nagel added it
Shelves: abandoned
I just could not get into this one. I agree with other reviewers that had a hard time with the slow plot progression and complex imagery. I think kids will give up long before I did. I may revisit it.
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I'm a writer and actor in Austin, TX. I also sometimes write for the Austin Chronicle, act on stage in various Austin venues, and do voice work for games like DC Universe Online (Oracle) and Wizard 101 (Myrella Windspar).
More about Katherine Catmull...
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“But when you find your soul, you have to go. When you find your true shape, when the wind lifts you up, when you remember who you are, you have to go.” 13 likes
“She wasn't a cruel Bird. But her heart ached so badly for these sad, broken birds that, just as the Puppeteer had planned, she had begun to hate them. She hated them for making her feel so wretched, when she should be happiest. That happens sometimes.” 7 likes
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