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The Ever-After Bird

Review

The Ever-After Bird

Thirteen-year-old CeCe McGill witnesses her father’s murder in July of 1851. He dies while assisting runaway slaves on their way to Canada using the Underground Railroad. CeCe did not share her father’s abolitionist beliefs or love for him. He blamed CeCe for her mother’s death, accused her of having no soul and beat her. Still, even after all of that, she is surprised that she misses him.

When CeCe’s Uncle Alex comes for the funeral, she discovers that he has been assigned guardianship of her. Uncle Alex is an abolitionist like her father, helping runaway slaves find freedom. He is also a doctor, a trustee at Oberlin College and an artist, painting beautiful pictures of the feathered birds he loves. He invites CeCe to join him on a trip to Georgia to scout the wilds for rare specimens like the elusive scarlet ibis, also known by slaves as the Ever-After Bird. They call it, thus believing that if they see one, they will be free, ever after.

Also joining them on the trip as Uncle Alex’s assistant is Earline, a student at Oberlin College. Earline escaped from slavery as a teenager. But Uncle Alex and Earline have a secret, very dangerous agenda for their trip to Georgia --- they will offer slaves advice, money and directions for the Underground Railroad!

CeCe, Earline and Uncle Alex travel south across Georgia, staying as guests at various plantations on the way. For safety, Earline disguises herself as a slave, which also allows her to gain access into the slave quarters in order to talk with them. Unfortunately, her role also brings up horrid, unbearable memories of her own slavery experiences. For CeCe, her eyes are finally, and painfully, pried open to the horrors of this cruel and sadistic practice. She witnesses inhumane tortures, ironically committed by one human to another, forcing her to finally become involved. This one trip to the south will change CeCe’s life forever.

Ann Rinaldi delivers another spellbinding, well-researched historical novel. Her characters are well-rounded and enticing, experiencing development and deepening awareness. Read as CeCe grows from a self-centered child to a caring, self-sacrificing young woman; experience her blossoming heart as her relationship grows with her uncle, and she begins to recognize human cruelties in the world. Rinaldi also has a special talent for descriptions, bringing the south alive with color and essence (“She wasn’t even looking at the fairyland around us, the fallen and decaying trunks of trees, the dark cypresses protecting us from the sun with their dripping branches, the water lilies, the rich mosses that gleamed in the sun like green jewels.”). More importantly, this talented author brings to light the nightmares of our country’s past, for we must never forget.

Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on November 1, 2007

The Ever-After Bird
by Ann Rinaldi

  • Publication Date: November 1, 2007
  • Genres: Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
  • ISBN-10: 0152026207
  • ISBN-13: 9780152026202