Author: Chan, Crystal
Twelve-year-old Jewel was born on the day her brother Bird died and lives in a house of silence and secrets, but a new boy in her Iowa town may help find the answers Jewel wants despite her Jamaican grandfather's warning that he is a "duppy," a malevolent spirit.
Download a Teacher's Guide
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.60
Points: 9.0 Quiz: 165634
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 4.50
Points: 14.0 Quiz: 62531
Kirkus Reviews (11/15/13)
School Library Journal (01/01/14)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (03/14)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 12/01/2013 “In my house we wield silence like shields and swords: We use it to push people away or injure them.” Ever since 12-year-old Jewel’s brother died by jumping off a cliff on the day she was born, her grandfather hasn’t uttered a word. He’s the one who gave his grandson, John, the nickname “Bird” and told him that, one day, Bird would fly. Jewel’s Jamaican grandpa and her dad believe in duppies, or harmful spirits, and think grandpa’s nickname attracted one. Now, Jewel is living in a house of fear, silence, and guilt. Jewel returns to the cliff where her brother died in order to connect with him and feels the place, unlike her family, speaks to her. When she meets a boy in town for the summer, she, a geology lover, and he, obsessed with space exploration, become friends. But this boy has secrets of his own, and, eventually, someone is going to have to talk. This is a slow read—thoughtful and introspective about the dynamics of a grieving family—and contemplative readers will be rewarded by Jewel’s journey. - Copyright 2013 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 01/01/2014 Gr 4–6—Jewel never met her brother. On the day she was born, he tried to fly off a cliff and died. Her parents believe that Grandpa's nickname for his grandson, Bird, caused a bad spirit, a duppy, to trick the boy into believing he could fly. Twelve years later, Grandpa has still not spoken a word and Jewel is fed up with her moody parents and unloving household. She meets a boy who calls himself John, her brother's real name. They share their hopes and dreams and Jewel opens up about visiting the cliff to bury her worries as small stones. Grandpa thinks John is a duppy in disguise, come to cause more harm. Jewel is a multilayered, emotional character who struggles to come to terms with her family's issues. The mixture of superstition and science creates a wonderful juxtaposition in this powerful story about loss and moving on.—Clare A. Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, MA - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 03/01/2014 Daughter of a Jamaican father and her half-Mexican, half-white mother, Jewel has always felt out of place in her small Iowa town. More importantly, she feels out of place in her own family, having been born on the day her then five-year-old brother John, whom her grandfather nicknamed Bird, tried to fly off a bluff and died. Her grandfather hasn’t spoken a word since, and her birthday is a day of sadness for her parents. Jewel’s father believes duppies, malevolent spirits, were responsible for her brother’s death, and while her mother considers this superstitious nonsense that will prevent her daughter from being practical, she nonetheless doesn’t support Jewel’s desire to become a scientist. When Jewel meets John, an adopted black boy staying with his uncle, she finds a kindred spirit, someone as out of place as she is and as interested in astronomy as she is in geology. Her grandfather, however, believes that John is a duppy, coming to claim his other grandchild. Chan has carefully crafted John and Jewel as effective foils for each other; their shared interest in science propels multiple metaphors that help Jewel figure out what is solid and knowable versus what must be taken on faith or intuited. John’s family situation also provides an inverted mirror for Jewel’s, offering both of them a chance for reflection and growth as they start to assert themselves and insist that their parents stop taking them for granted. Their process is realistically fumbled yet ultimately successful; both character arcs show a deep respect for readers’ abilities to negotiate the complexities of belief and doubt, and to find meaning via character reflection. KC - Copyright 2014 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.