Bird Boy

Bird Boy

By Author / Illustrator

Catherine Bruton


Personal Growth

Age range(s)



Nosy Crow




Paperback / softback




From the multi-award-winning author of No Ballet Shoes in Syria, comes a story of migration, conservation, healing and hope as a grieving boy forms an unbreakable bond with an injured bird.

After the tragic death of his mother, eleven year old Will is sent to temporarily stay with his uncle in the mountains. After years trapped in a high-rise flat, with only birds for company, Will doesn't know how he'll survive a place like this, but he soon finds solace in the woods, when he's surrounded by birdsong.

With his new friend Omar - a refugee from Afghanistan - Will discovers an osprey nest, with two small chicks inside. He forms an unbreakable bond with the birds, especially the smallest chick, who they name Whitetip. But when tragedy almost strikes again one stormy night, and Whitetip is knocked out of the nest - breaking a wing, Will is determined to save her. Smuggling her down from the mountain, he finds a way to keep her alive.  As Will helps Whitetip to grow and to heal, he finds a strength inside himself that he never knew he had. Maybe, finally, Will can find a way to take flight too...

Find out more in this video, and read ReadingZone's Q&A with Catherine Bruton

Praise for Bird Boy:  "Vivid and deeply empathetic, Catherine is a wonderful storyteller." Phil Earle.  "A wonderfully moving story about the healing power of nature, perfect for fans of Phil Earle and Katya Balen" Anthony McGowan.  "Unputdownable. A gift to nature loving young people." Hilary McKay.  "A heart-felt story about the healing power of nature. Moving and powerful, I loved it." Gill Lewis



Sent to live with his uncle in the Lake District, Will is faced with a life far removed from the one he is used to. When he makes friends with Omar, a refugee from Afghanistan, he finds the confidence to explore and the two boys discover an osprey nest. As they watch the birds, naming them, Will feels a deep connection with the smallest chick, Whitetip, so when, on a stormy night, Whitetip is knocked out of the nest, Will is determined to save her.

Catherine Bruton is well known for her empathetic, sensitive books and in Bird Boy, she has excelled herself. This is a story about migration - for humans and birds, about starting again, about healing, about hope. Deeply poignant in places, the story is written with great honesty and tenderness.

In Will, Catherine has done an amazing job of portraying a traumatised child, offering the reader glimpses of the life he has had with his mother and the strategies he has adopted to help himself cope. Struggling to come to terms with his recent bereavement, he is taken from all he knows to live with an uncle he barely knew existed whilst a new life with grandparents he has never met on the other side of the world beckons.  The beauty and solace of the mountains, the friendship he finds with Omar - and the local community - and the desire to save the helpless chick, all help Will to begin to heal and find a new sense of peace.

There is so much to recommend this book. I sobbed in places, gasped in others and ultimately, felt uplifted and hopeful for Will's future - and that of Omar and the ospreys. It is an incredibly powerful, beautifully executed story - not to be missed. ‎

272 pages / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 9+


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