Birdie and Me
A stunning debut about a girl named Jack and her gender creative little brother, Birdie, searching for the place where they can be their true and best selves.After their mama dies, Jack and Birdie find themselves without a place to call home. And when Mama's two brothers each try to provide one--first sweet Uncle Carl, then gruff Uncle Patrick--the results are funny, tender, and tragic.They're also somehow . . . spectacular.With voices and characters that soar off the page, J. M. M. Nuanez's debut novel depicts an unlikely family caught in a situation none of them would have chosen, and the beautiful ways in which they finally come to understand one another.

Birdie and Me Details

TitleBirdie and Me
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 18th, 2020
PublisherKathy Dawson Books/Penguin Young Readers
Rating
GenreChildrens, Middle Grade, LGBT, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult, Contemporary, Health, Mental Health

Birdie and Me Review

  • Shaye Miller
    January 1, 1970
    This tenderhearted story is of Jack and Birdie, two siblings who recently lost their mother. Jack is the mature older sister always seeking to protect her little brother. And this is particularly the case since Birdie tends to be bullied due to his creative, colorful clothing. After their mother dies they are sent to live with their Uncle Carl, who loves them deeply. But one day his ability to properly care for them is questioned and so they're eventually sent to live with their Uncle Patrick. This tenderhearted story is of Jack and Birdie, two siblings who recently lost their mother. Jack is the mature older sister always seeking to protect her little brother. And this is particularly the case since Birdie tends to be bullied due to his creative, colorful clothing. After their mother dies they are sent to live with their Uncle Carl, who loves them deeply. But one day his ability to properly care for them is questioned and so they're eventually sent to live with their Uncle Patrick. They know practically nothing about Patrick, except how gruff he seems. But sometimes it's important to peel back the emotional "onion layers" and see more than what's visible on the surface. This is a story that addresses a wide variety of family dynamics, including questions about transgender behaviors and feelings. It also addresses bullying, regrets, and mental health. I would anticipate mostly older middle graders or younger mature middle grade readers to appreciate this emotional story, but there's plenty here for the YA crowd to discuss, as well.For more children's lit, middle grade lit, and YA lit reviews, feel free to visit my personal blog at The Miller Memo!
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  • Ava Budavari
    January 1, 1970
    God I dont even know what to say right now. I related to this in ways I never expected, and it made me remember experiences and feelings I had in my childhood that I hadnt thought about in years. It feels like it was written for me, so its hard for me to give Birdie And Me a proper review. But maybe that speaks to the book more than any review ever could. Also, gender creativity is so so beautiful. Pick up your copy on February 18, 2020. You wont want to miss this. God I don’t even know what to say right now. I related to this in ways I never expected, and it made me remember experiences and feelings I had in my childhood that I hadn’t thought about in years. It feels like it was written for me, so it’s hard for me to give Birdie And Me a proper review. But maybe that speaks to the book more than any review ever could. Also, gender creativity is so so beautiful. Pick up your copy on February 18, 2020. You won’t want to miss this.
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  • Laura Gardner
    January 1, 1970
    I can't remember the last time I loved a debut book this much. Thank you, @jmmnuanez....Jack and her gender creative little brother Birdie have to move in with their stoic, stern Uncle Patrick, but they'd much rather live with their Uncle Carl. Most of all, they wish they could have their fun Mama back with her Wolf Days and creative games. When Birdie is bullied for his clothing choices, Uncle Patrick forces him to wear "regular" boy clothes so he can just fit in. Janet, a teen wanna-be I can't remember the last time I loved a debut book this much. Thank you, @jmmnuanez....Jack and her gender creative little brother Birdie have to move in with their stoic, stern Uncle Patrick, but they'd much rather live with their Uncle Carl. Most of all, they wish they could have their fun Mama back with her Wolf Days and creative games. When Birdie is bullied for his clothing choices, Uncle Patrick forces him to wear "regular" boy clothes so he can just fit in. Janet, a teen wanna-be hairdresser, is Jack's best friend and part of a loose support system Jack and Birdie rely on. Jack feels a bit like an island -- lonely and alone in her personal struggles. But if she finds others who feel similarly, can they rely on each other and not be so alone?... Jack's notes from her observation journal, sometimes in free verse, sometimes in lists, are a highlight of this book, a window into Jack's fears, worries, and hopes. With charming characters who jump off the page and a beautiful sibling relationship, this one will definitely be a hit with the right kid. Grades 3 - 7.
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  • Jenna Hines
    January 1, 1970
    Birdie and Jacks story was incredibly moving. We see them trying to adapt to a new environment, as they navigate a world full of negativity. Jacks words have a way of encapsulating the reader, and then transporting them to the world of Nowhere Northern California. I truly love the way that the characters are written. Its amazing how I could find a little bit of myself in each character. Jack is strong-willed and independent. Birdie is light, sparkly, and totally heartwarming. These siblings Birdie and Jack’s story was incredibly moving. We see them trying to adapt to a new environment, as they navigate a world full of negativity. Jack’s words have a way of encapsulating the reader, and then transporting them to the world of “Nowhere Northern California.” I truly love the way that the characters are written. It’s amazing how I could find a little bit of myself in each character. Jack is strong-willed and independent. Birdie is light, “sparkly,” and totally heartwarming. These siblings captured my heart.Anyone that reads this book will come out of the experience with a more open mind, heart and soul. The book accomplishes the feat of appealing to a vast audience to share a very impactful message.
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  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    After their mother dies suddenly, siblings Birdie and Jack must leave home to live with their uncles. When sweet Uncle Carl proves unreliable, gruff Uncle Patrick takes over. A practical stranger, Patrick struggles to understand gender non-conforming Birdie and introspective Jack, and they him. As the whole family copes with loss, Birdie and Jack somehow remember how the ordinary can be extraordinary, how relationships can be lost and found, and how they can each find a place in the world. After their mother dies suddenly, siblings Birdie and Jack must leave home to live with their uncles. When sweet Uncle Carl proves unreliable, gruff Uncle Patrick takes over. A practical stranger, Patrick struggles to understand gender non-conforming Birdie and introspective Jack, and they him. As the whole family copes with loss, Birdie and Jack somehow remember how the ordinary can be extraordinary, how relationships can be lost and found, and how they can each find a place in the world. Delicate moments heavy with meaning are left for the reader to discover, and when they are found, they’ll stay with readers long past the last page.
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  • Shoshana
    January 1, 1970
    After their mother dies, Jack and her little brother Birdie are sent to live with their uncles; but Uncle Carl isn't reliable, and Uncle Patrick doesn't like Birdie's purple jacket, skirts, and rainbow leggings. All Jack wants is somewhere they can both live as themselves. This book doesn't just have heart, it IS heart. I couldn't put it down, needing to see how their story evolved, and watch the complexities of their family unfold, while loving the fierce devotion between brother and sister. After their mother dies, Jack and her little brother Birdie are sent to live with their uncles; but Uncle Carl isn't reliable, and Uncle Patrick doesn't like Birdie's purple jacket, skirts, and rainbow leggings. All Jack wants is somewhere they can both live as themselves. This book doesn't just have heart, it IS heart. I couldn't put it down, needing to see how their story evolved, and watch the complexities of their family unfold, while loving the fierce devotion between brother and sister. Ideal for fans of Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Holly Goldberg Sloan, and "Lily and Dunkin."
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  • Jane
    January 1, 1970
    This book was recommended by my boss at Sundance Books & Music and it didn't disappoint.
  • Ariel
    January 1, 1970
    I really loved this book. A story about how girl Jack navigates grief with her gender creative little brother after their mother dies. This book navigates grief and identify by facing the scary parts and embracing moments of joy that connect us. Reading this book is a reminder that person is an island and even if they are they are at least an archipelago. As a queer person I can be really protective of queer stories especially when not told by a person if the identity the story is about. This I really loved this book. A story about how girl Jack navigates grief with her gender creative little brother after their mother dies. This book navigates grief and identify by facing the scary parts and embracing moments of joy that connect us. Reading this book is a reminder that person is an island and even if they are they are at least an archipelago. As a queer person I can be really protective of queer stories especially when not told by a person if the identity the story is about. This story is a cis girls perspective of a gender creative (still figuring it out in a very age accurate way) sibling. I think this book is amazing and honors the identities it represents. I am really excited to hear some gender queer/gender non conforming perspectives on it!
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  • Ms. Yingling
    January 1, 1970
    E ARC provided by Young Adult Books CentralJack and her younger brother Birdie have not had an easy time lately. Their mother was killed in a car accident, and their neighbor, Mrs. Spater, watched them until their uncle arrived, but was too old to take care of them. They have to move several hours away, and their uncle Carl has some problems taking care of them. Birdie, who has a fondness for gender nonconforming clothing, has run into trouble with his classmates, both children have missed a lot E ARC provided by Young Adult Books CentralJack and her younger brother Birdie have not had an easy time lately. Their mother was killed in a car accident, and their neighbor, Mrs. Spater, watched them until their uncle arrived, but was too old to take care of them. They have to move several hours away, and their uncle Carl has some problems taking care of them. Birdie, who has a fondness for gender nonconforming clothing, has run into trouble with his classmates, both children have missed a lot of school, and Carl feeds them mainly fast food and convenience store snacks. They end up having to go live with their Uncle Patrick, who is not as understanding of their needs. He feeds them healthier food, they have their own rooms, and he tries to check in with them frequently when he has to work, but he also makes Birdie wear clothes that are much more sober in color and design. Early on, Jack and Birdie decide they will return to their former home, and get part way there on a bus. They get off at a break and miss the bus, but luckily Patrick shows up to take them home. Jack's friend Janet is supportive of both of them, but her mother's boyfriend is the father of one of Birdie's chief tormentors. Carl has a girlfriend who runs a local food truck, and the children encourage her to ask her to marry him, but this does not go smoothly after a disaster with her truck. Patrick isn't quite sure how to best help the children, but tries hard. Will Jack and Birdie be able to find a way to make a life for themselves under their new circumstances?Strengths: The characters in the book are very interesting. Janet is worldly-wise, Jack is sad but supportive, the uncles try their best, and Birdie has no guidance for how to process his feelings of being different. Janet is the most helpful with his concerns, since the uncles don't seem to have a good handle on their own lives. The small town, tight-knit setting is interesting, as is the food truck. Weaknesses: The teachers at the school seem very unhelpful, which is sad. What I really think: The cover is not very appealing, and the book is long, so it would take a bit of convincing to get my students to read it. It's also the sort of book that, while interesting, doesn't have a whole let that happens. Debating.
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  • Megan
    January 1, 1970
    I dont read a lot of Middle Grade fiction, but I was really excited when I discovered this ARC. I was intrigued with the premise of the novel, and having trans members of my family, endeared by the premise of a child experimenting with gender. And Birdie was such a treat. Hes definitely whimsical and endearing. He was my favorite character for sure. I love this novel as a way of modeling to young readers how gender is a spectrum, combating toxic masculinity, and presenting a very real message to I don’t read a lot of Middle Grade fiction, but I was really excited when I discovered this ARC. I was intrigued with the premise of the novel, and having trans members of my family, endeared by the premise of a child experimenting with gender. And Birdie was such a treat. He’s definitely whimsical and endearing. He was my favorite character for sure. I love this novel as a way of modeling to young readers how gender is a spectrum, combating toxic masculinity, and presenting a very real message to readers “it’s okay to not know how you identify.” Having books like this available to young readers will be simply transformative in kids’ lives and I’m really excited about this novel for that reason.I also think that the book is really, really heartbreaking. Birdie experiences a lot cruelty from other people in the small community that they live in. There is a lot of poverty and hopelessness in the small town as well. Birdie and Jack are continually failed by the adults in their life who should be caring for them. I think the most devastating thing to realize was (view spoiler)[ that Birdie and Jack’s mom was mentally ill (likely bipolar) and because of that and the fact that they had little support system growing up, they were not cared for as they should have been. (hide spoiler)] I’m glad that authors write about these hard issues because there are definitely kids out there with these situations and I hope this book can be a beacon for them. However, I found that this made the novel feel bleak and depressing for the most part. I think that made my heart break more because I know that there are students who deal with that level of depression and bleakness everyday.This novel is lyrically written and the plot flows so nicely, mingling the story with poignant flashbacks and observations that Jack writes in her notebook. I like this book and I’m so glad that it was written, but go into knowing that it is an emotionally hard book to read.
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  • Abby Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    This heartfelt story focuses on the strong sibling bond between Jack and her little brother Birdie who is gender nonconforming. Birdie was allowed to be who he was when Mama was alive, but now that Mama's gone and they've been put into Uncle Jack's custody, all bets are off. This is a story of a sister and brother who are fiercely protective of each other and clinging to each other in a turbulent sea. I loved the characterization, Birdie's for sure and the representation of a gender This heartfelt story focuses on the strong sibling bond between Jack and her little brother Birdie who is gender nonconforming. Birdie was allowed to be who he was when Mama was alive, but now that Mama's gone and they've been put into Uncle Jack's custody, all bets are off. This is a story of a sister and brother who are fiercely protective of each other and clinging to each other in a turbulent sea. I loved the characterization, Birdie's for sure and the representation of a gender nonconforming kid without tons of labels - Birdie's not sure if he's gay, he's not sure if he's transgender. He just wants to be who he is and wear what he likes to wear. But I also really loved Jack's characterization, particularly how like her Uncle Patrick she is even though absolutely neither of them realize it. Jack tends to keep things close to the vest, having big thoughts but somehow unable to make the words come out of her mouth. She's an observer and a writer more than a talker and that sometimes makes it hard for her to make friends or express how she's feeling. Uncle Patrick's the same way, strong and silent but holding a world of emotions within his stoic demeanor that isn't revealed until close to the end of the book. I'd hand this one to readers of See You at Harry's.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    A well written book for middle/high school age, Birdie and Me follows Jack and her gender creative younger brother, Birdie. Both siblings have been through so much: the death of their mother, a move to their Uncle Carl who hasn't been taking good care of them, a move to their Uncle Patrick's--someone they barely know and doesn't communicate well with them, and the difficulty of a new town and bullying of Birdie by kids and adults who don't understand him. There were many obstacles that these A well written book for middle/high school age, Birdie and Me follows Jack and her gender creative younger brother, Birdie. Both siblings have been through so much: the death of their mother, a move to their Uncle Carl who hasn't been taking good care of them, a move to their Uncle Patrick's--someone they barely know and doesn't communicate well with them, and the difficulty of a new town and bullying of Birdie by kids and adults who don't understand him. There were many obstacles that these kids faced, but their support of each other and love was tenderly conveyed by the author. As in real life, they meet some people who reach out with support and some who try to make them conform or just judge them. I was disappointed that the two depictions of teachers were negative. At least the librarian was a friend and supporter of the kids who are struggling to find a community. Thanks to Kathy Dawson Books/Penguin Young Readers Group for an ARC of this book won through a Goodreads giveaway.
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  • Lynn
    January 1, 1970
    Two orphaned children are placed with an Uncle Patrick who is not well off. He especially is uncomfortable with the youngest child who is male but obsessed with female clothes, make up and other wear. While the mother accepted Birdies sense of self and a wealthier Uncle Carl, who often visited them and took them places, it is Uncle Patrick who is deemed their guardian. Birdie is forced to wear plain boys clothes to school and told to hide his identity. When a bully is bothering him at school, Two orphaned children are placed with an Uncle Patrick who is not well off. He especially is uncomfortable with the youngest child who is male but obsessed with female clothes, make up and other wear. While the mother accepted Birdie’s sense of self and a wealthier Uncle Carl, who often visited them and took them places, it is Uncle Patrick who is deemed their guardian. Birdie is forced to wear plain boys clothes to school and told to hide his identity. When a bully is bothering him at school, Patrick doubles down on his hiring Birdie. But eventually he comes to support Birdie’s identity. I cringe in another orphan, parents die book. The death count for parents in children’s and YA books is extremely high. But the angle of a transgender child being moved around and forced to adapt to multiple caretaker adults is a worthy thought and very important to look at.
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  • Tlwinky
    January 1, 1970
    There were SO MANY things happening in this story. Almost too many. Birdie and Jack were a very strong central story and their relationships with their uncles after their mother dies is a very good story line. A whole lot transpired and developed between them all and it would have been a complete story with just those characters, but then there was Janet and her whole story line, which I found totally useless to the rest of the story. Why add them? If you took out all the parts of the story that There were SO MANY things happening in this story. Almost too many. Birdie and Jack were a very strong central story and their relationships with their uncles after their mother dies is a very good story line. A whole lot transpired and developed between them all and it would have been a complete story with just those characters, but then there was Janet and her whole story line, which I found totally useless to the rest of the story. Why add them? If you took out all the parts of the story that had Janet, her mother, or her mother's boyfriend it really doesn't change the story all that much. I almost think the author felt the same way because she seemed to have characters leaving town to go stay with family out of state (out of the story) often. I just found it a bit odd. It detracted from the story just a bit. But, otherwise, it was a very sweet story.
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  • Tiffani Reads
    January 1, 1970
    When I asked for a copy of this book to review I knew very little about it going into it. I knew it was about a girl named Jack and her younger brother that was struggling with the concept of gender. This book is so much more than that! While it does discuss gender openly and how you should not be forced to fit into a box, it covers so many more topics. Grief plays a huge part throughout the book and both Jack and Birdie are still grieving the death of their mother and the life that they use to When I asked for a copy of this book to review I knew very little about it going into it. I knew it was about a girl named Jack and her younger brother that was struggling with the concept of gender. This book is so much more than that! While it does discuss gender openly and how you should not be forced to fit into a box, it covers so many more topics. Grief plays a huge part throughout the book and both Jack and Birdie are still grieving the death of their mother and the life that they use to have. Birdie is being bullied, and at first it seems to be because he dresses different from the other boys in his class but really there is no cause and that is so true when it comes to bullies sometimes. Birdie is figuring out and exploring the fact that he is different, he knows that he likes to wear rainbow tights and a purple jacket but he doesn't know if he is transgender or gay, and says so when asked. All he knows is that those clothes make him happy and really that is the most important thing. We should always allow people to be who they are on the outside, to match what they feel on the inside and I think this book does a good job of shedding some light on this issue. I really enjoyed this book and cannot wait to see what else this author does in the future.
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  • Anne Barker
    January 1, 1970
    This was such a fantastic read. It teaches you a lot. For instance, be who you want to be. Dont let anyone tell you who you can and cannot be. Its also okay to not know who you are. Jack and Birdie have gone through a lot with losing their mom and living with one uncle and then having to leave and move in with the other uncle. Things dont always go as planned and people might not express themselves in the best way but at the end of the day you are family. You all have experienced loss and can be This was such a fantastic read. It teaches you a lot. For instance, be who you want to be. Don’t let anyone tell you who you can and cannot be. It’s also okay to not know who you are. Jack and Birdie have gone through a lot with losing their mom and living with one uncle and then having to leave and move in with the other uncle. Things don’t always go as planned and people might not express themselves in the best way but at the end of the day you are family. You all have experienced loss and can be there for one another. You can all let go and be okay.
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  • Kari Ramadorai
    January 1, 1970
    This story of a girl named Jack with and her brother with a flair for fashion reads quick and deeply. Caregivers try their hardest, working through their own family history while caring for Jack and Birdie and reconnecting as a family. Told with strong middle-school sensibility and voice, this book highlights the strengths others might mistake for flaws.
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  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    Well written middle/high school novel about a girl and her gender creative brother in the aftermath of their mothers sudden death. Honestly and sensitively told, this was a very smooth read. Not a tear jerker, but thoughtful, insightful and hopeful. Well written middle/high school novel about a girl and her gender creative brother in the aftermath of their mother’s sudden death. Honestly and sensitively told, this was a very smooth read. Not a tear jerker, but thoughtful, insightful and hopeful.
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  • Beth Parmer
    January 1, 1970
    I really loved this book. While its own unique story, it held within it the power to bring me back to books I love like The Line Tender, Caterpillar Summer, The Science of Breakable Things and The Benefits of Being an Octopus.
  • Alison
    January 1, 1970
    A very earnest debut novel -- centering on a girl (named Jack) with a "gender-creative" little brother.Author Nuanez tries to pack a lot in.
  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this book! I enjoyed the characters, the plot, and the writing. Funny, sad, and hopeful. #ARC
  • Kathleen
    January 1, 1970
    Queer content: gnc younger brother
  • Emmaj
    January 1, 1970
    Good book. Failed to sick the landing
  • Tory
    January 1, 1970
    Very sweet story, with realistic, flawed characters trying their best in tough situations. A lot of heart and empathy.
  • Ann
    January 1, 1970
    Wonderful!Get a copy from your local independent.
  • Janet
    January 1, 1970
    A quiet book of a gender non-conforming little boy, his sister, and their life with their uncles after the death of their mother. A must for MS libraries--and recommended for elementary libraries.
  • Lindsey Stoddard
    January 1, 1970
    Loved the sibling duo of Jack and Birdie so so much.
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