by Andrea Curtis (Author) Kass Reich (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
A vain blue budgie flies the coop only to find that there's no place like home.  Barnaby is a blue budgie who's got it all: a golden cage, bells to jingle-jangle, and an owner who gives him all the snacks and attention he wants. Until his owner brings home a "friend" for Barnaby: a little yellow canary. Barnaby is not happy. When his tantrums don't convince his owner to get rid of the canary, Barnaby flies away and ends up hopelessly lost. While stopping for a rest, he encounters a flock of wild sparrows. At first, he looks down his beak at the drab, brown birds. But, growing hungrier and thirstier, he realizes he has a lot to learn from them. Soon Barnaby is a part of their flock, scavenging for seeds and riding on the wind. But Barnaby can't forget his former home, and every night he searches for his owner's house using tricks the sparrows taught him. Finally, he finds it, and Barnaby returns home a changed bird. With subtle messages about sibling rivalry and jealousy, readers will enjoy Barnaby's antics and the sweet conclusion to this story.

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School Library Journal

K-Gr 2--Barnaby the budgie loves living in a "falling-down house on the edge of a park" where his owner, "a kind lady," wearing red glasses feeds him sunflower seeds and pieces of sweet mango. One day, the lady returns from work with a fluffy yellow bird in a second cage, and Barnaby does not like the newcomer on sight. Angry, Barnaby acts out and then runs away via an open window. While searching for home he learns about the wonders in the world outside, and about other birds, who welcome him. Barnaby returns to the falling-down house but then leaves again, this time to find a fat berry as a gift for the yellow bird. The disjointed story is told in a tiny rustic font that stands out on each page. Text and pictures mostly work in tandem, but the house is not falling down at all--it's a sweet cottage. The softened scenes in a rich palette show what Barnaby is feeling and seeing as he experiences his world growing. VERDICT One budgie's emotional growth after leaving home will ring familiar to young children, but there are other titles on independence that handle the topic more directly, and without the visual disconnect.--Margaret Kennelly, Media Specialist, Indian Head Elem. Sch., MD

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

[Curtis uses] poetic figures of speech... Reich's gouache paintings with colored pencil are honey-toned and golden... Full of feeling.— "Kirkus Reviews - STARRED REVIEW"
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
April 20, 2021

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