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Summer and Bird

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  1,179 ratings  ·  294 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
Hardcover, 346 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
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Baylee If you love lyrical writing and beautiful imagery, then yes it is!

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Average rating 3.59  · 
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 ·  1,179 ratings  ·  294 reviews

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Dec 29, 2013 rated it did not like it
[1.5 Stars] This was boring, flowery, and far too vague for my liking. I'm all for strange and prettily written books, but this one I just couldn't connect to at all. In part it was the writing and in part it was the ridiculously annoying and not relatable characters. The writing wasn't for me. I can see its merit and it is the only reason this got a 1.5 instead of a 1 star rating, but seriously everything felt just a little too alien for me. Would not recommend it no matter how pretty the cover ...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
This came so close to being a haunting, eerie little fable-tale. Prose that borders on lush describing fairytale twists, at times it's lovely and at others it misses the mark completely. So much potential that breaks through at unexpected and delightful moments, leaving the reader wanting oh so much more - a more that is never quite delivered. ...more
Oct 08, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
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 birds and the evil Puppeteer queen. Summer and Bird are quickly separated, and their divided hearts lead them each in a very
Heather Hayden
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Having glanced at a few reviews of this book previously, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. However, the cover was captivating enough that I kept an eye out for it, and when a friend gifted me a hardcover copy for Christmas, I dove right on.

Having finished it yesterday at last, I decided it was time to write a review. What sort of a review, though, I wasn't sure--it's hard to put into words what I felt about this book. Overall, it was a compelling read that I enjoyed and will definitely pres
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Alexandra Calaway
Oct 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is possibly the best middle grade book I have ever read in my life. It is a book like a music box, old and dusty and you think it won't play, but when it does, the song is so bright and loud and clear, your mouth drops open and you feel a few tears in your eyes. That is how this book is.

This is a book about birds. About a mother and her daughters. About sisters, very different sisters. About how when you love someone, you oftentimes hurt them and you don't mean to, you want to take it back
Michelle King
Jul 25, 2013 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-fantasy, 2013
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
J.H. Fleming
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book was pure magic. I started it expecting great things, and I was not disappointed. From the beginning I was drawn in, ensnared by the lovely web of the story, and I didn't want to break free. If you love tales of sisters, of magic, of fairy tales, of longing and myth and birds, this book is for you.

Favorite quote:
"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."
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Douglas Cootey
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
I've come to the end of my reading journey with this book. Page 205. I want to like it, but it's a bit of a trudge with the feeling of being made up as it goes along. If I liked the characters, then I might press on, but Summer and Bird's personalities aren't defined. They are like the heroes of ancient lore where ordeal after ordeal befalls them as they persevere, but the journey they are on is the author's, not theirs. As such, they are blanks to project the author's message, delivered via met ...more
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
You read a lot of good stories in children's books, but reading good writing, let alone EXCELLENT writing can be a rarity. This book is like a faery tale is the oldest sense of the word--full of danger, and sacrifice, and nobility, and magic, and quests, and love, and revenge, and evil, and triumph--I couldn't put it down. Even now, I can't stop thinking about it and bits and pieces of it keep coming back to me (there's so much deeper in it). Truly amazing. This is not a light read. This has som ...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
May 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2013
Ugh, this book. It started off so well! Very lyrical, fairytale-esque, and somewhere along the lines, it just kind of lost the plot. Literally. Long about the part with the magic house, the rooms with the gifts, and the seemingly never-ending interlude in the World Tree, I checked way out. And this was somewhere around page 150 or so, and it never ever got me back. Finishing the rest was a chore after that, but by that time I was too invested not to finish. I get that those things ended up being ...more
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
colleen the convivial curmudgeon

I've been putting off rating/reviewing this story, because I really can't decide whether to go 1-star or 2. I'm going 2 for the time being, with the above caveat of 1.5 - but this might change at some future point.

The blurb of the book makes the story sound like an action-adventure sort of story - the two girls have to find their parents, but get separated along the way. What adventures and pitfalls await them?

And this happens.

But it reads more like a story about families and secrets and feel
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Dutton Children's Books, 2012
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
Jonelle Patrick
Nov 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 them
Jul 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Audrey Coleman
Sep 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Sep 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Brittany Perry
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
this book was so amazing. I picked it up on sale and thought well this will be a good book to read in between new releases. SO I was running low on new reading material and decided to give it a go. By far the most original book I have ever read. The only thing vaguely similar is it may have some deep roots in the swan maiden or swan princess tales. The sibling rivalry was so genuine and the feeling of being the favored child or the child who unexpectedly shows talent was so interesting and relat ...more
Dec 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned-books
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.

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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

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