The Bird in Me Flies

The Bird in Me Flies

Written by: Lundberg, Sara
Illustrated by: Lundberg, Sara
Translated by: Epstein, B.J.
ages 9 to 12 / grades 4 to 7

A prize-winning, illustrated novel in verse about a young girl who dreams of being an artist, inspired by the life of Swedish artist Berta Hansson.

What do you do when it feels impossible to live up to everything expected of you? When the only person who understands you disappears? When you are young and long for something that seems out of reach?

Berta dreams of being an artist, but as a girl growing up in a small Swedish farming village in the 1920s, she has little hope. She finds solace in nature, and in drawing and shaping birds from clay for her mother, the only person who seems to truly understand her. When her mother succumbs to tuberculosis, Berta feels alone, in despair and even more burdened by all the work on the farm. Can she find the courage to defy her father and the social conventions of her time, and fly free?

This beautifully illustrated novel in verse, inspired by the paintings, letters and diaries of Swedish artist Berta Hansson (1910-1994), is a universal story of grief, longing and following your dreams.

Includes an afterword by journalist Alexandra Sundqvist.

Key Text Features
captions
photographs
biographical information

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.5.7
Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text (e.g., graphic novel, multimedia presentation of fiction, folktale, myth, poem).

A prize-winning, illustrated novel in verse about a young girl who dreams of being an artist, inspired by the life of Swedish artist Berta Hansson.

What do you do when it feels impossible to live up to everything expected of you? When the only person who understands you disappears? When you are young and long for something that seems out of reach?

Berta dreams of being an artist, but as a girl growing up in a small Swedish farming village in the 1920s, she has little hope. She finds solace in nature, and in drawing and shaping birds from clay for her mother, the only person who seems to truly understand her. When her mother succumbs to tuberculosis, Berta feels alone, in despair and even more burdened by all the work on the farm. Can she find the courage to defy her father and the social conventions of her time, and fly free?

This beautifully illustrated novel in verse, inspired by the paintings, letters and diaries of Swedish artist Berta Hansson (1910-1994), is a universal story of grief, longing and following your dreams.

Includes an afterword by journalist Alexandra Sundqvist.

Key Text Features
captions
photographs
biographical information

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.5.7
Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text (e.g., graphic novel, multimedia presentation of fiction, folktale, myth, poem).

Published By Groundwood Books Ltd - May 1, 2020
Specifications 120 pages | 6.75 in x 8.25 in

Praise for Sara Lundberg and The Bird in Me Flies:


Shortlisted, CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal, 2021

Mighty Village Spring Book Picks, 2020

Booklist Top 10 Art Books for Youth, 2020

Evanston Public Library, 101 Great Books for Kids List, 2020


“The text itself is often spare and melancholy, translated beautifully from the original Swedish by Epstein, but it’s also infused with intimacy and familial warmth. The striking illustrations—of gouache, aquarelle, and collage—reflect the emotional journey.” — Booklist, starred review

“Melancholy and moving.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Lundberg’s handsome biography of self-discovery remembers an artist who came to know without a doubt who she was meant to be.” — Publishers Weekly

“Anyone who has cultivated a dream that defies societal demands and cultural ­expectations will appreciate this affecting story of a young girl’s struggle to achieve her creative aspirations.” — School Library Journal

“The sparse written text flows smoothly and poetically. … For readers with an interest in art, The Bird in Me Flies is a book especially worth reading.” — CM Review of Materials

“Lunderg’s illustrations done in aquarelle, gouache and collage are exceptional, and easily transcend you to this time and place. The prose is equally compelling and introspective.” — Mighty Village

"A pensive, thoughtful and thought-provoking read." — Fab Book Reviews Blog

“A beautiful, vital children’s book about art and life, which inspires its readers to dare to follow their own bird wherever they want.” — August Prize Jury

“Lundberg tells the story with tenderness, specificity, and a spare eloquence.”— Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast Blog

“[I]mpressive. Certainly worthy of discovery.” — A Fuse #8 Production Blog

“The Bird in Me Flies is a perfect refrain for a young rebel. … The greater story is about following one’s heart.” — Gunilla Brodej, Expressen 

“… a piece of (women’s) history for the youngest, but executed in a fashion of high artistic originality — never preachy or stilted. The illustrations are incredibly beautiful … The language is poetic and lovely, and full of implicit sorrow and longing … This is children’s literature at its finest.” — Ida Therén, writer and cultural critic, ETC

“This book shouldn’t be missed, by neither children nor adults …” — Västerbottens-Kuriren