What the Birds See

What the Birds See

by Sonya Hartnett


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Entwining a tale of missing children with the story of a lonely little boy, Sonya Hartnett captures the tenderness and dread of childhood in a work of exceptional storytelling.

The year is 1977, and Adrian is nine. He lives with his gran and his uncle Rory. His best friend is Clinton Tull. Adrian loves to draw, and he wants a dog. He’s afraid of quicksand, shopping centers, and self-combustion. But as closely as he watches his suburban world, there is much he cannot understand. He does not, for instance, know why three neighborhood children might set out to buy ice cream one summer’s day and never be seen again. . . .In this suburb that is no longer safe and innocent, in a broken family of self-absorbed souls, Sonya Hartnett sets the story of a lone little boy - unwanted, unloved, and intensely curious - a story as achingly beautiful as it is shattering. As her quiet tale ominously unfolds, we are reminded of how fragile are the threads that hold us secure - and how brave, how precious, is the heart of each child who soldiers on.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781536208818
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication date: 12/10/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile: 870L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Sonya Hartnett is the author of THURSDAY'S CHILD and several other acclaimed novels - the first written when she was just thirteen - and the recipient of many prestigious awards in her native Australia. Of WHAT THE BIRDS SEE, she says, "The Metford children are based on three children who went missing here in Australia in the late sixties and were never found. The abduction of a child is an emotive subject, and I
was wary of using someone else’s tragedy for my own purpose, so I deliberately kept the crime in the background of the book. Adrian is me in many respects, and many of the things that happen to him happened to me."

Read an Excerpt

He worries that one day his grandmother will forget to pick him up from school. He thinks he could walk home if he had to, though the walk would take a long time, but when he tries to travel the route in his head, the streets twine and mingle like spaghetti in a can, disorienting him in his chair. Each time the school bell signals the end of another day, he feels a chill down his spine: maybe today is the day. To be lost or forgotten or abandoned and alone are, to Adrian, terrors more carnivorous than any midnight monster lurking underneath a bed.

And now there is this new fear, one that settles so comfortably among its myriad kin that it seems familiar, as if it’s skulked there, scarcely noticed, all along. He does not know those Metford children, but they are children just like him, just like the children he sees every day at school. On the TV, in the Metford yard, he had glimpsed a black-and-white striped basketball exactly the same as his own. He does not recognize their street, though it’s only twenty minutes’ drive away, but he feels as though he has seen it before. The trees, the fences, the rooftops, the clotheslines - that is middle-class suburbia, and Adrian is a suburban boy. . . .

It has never occurred to him - and he blushes faintly, for being so stupid - to think that children can vanish. The Metfords have not been lost or abandoned - they have been made to disappear. They have not run away - they have been lifted up and carried. They’ve been taken somewhere as distant as Jupiter. Adrian has never thought that an ordinary child, a kid like himself or Clinton or that freckle-nosed girl, might be of interest to anyone excepting family and friends, that an ordinary child could be worth taking or wanting, a desirable thing.

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