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Bluebells in bloom

Cover of White Bird: A Wonder Story
A review of White Bird: A Wonder Story by R.J. Palacio

White Bird is a stunning graphic novel about one of the ugliest events in history. Set in France during World War II, White Bird tells the story of Sara and Julien, classmates at a rural school in a Nazi occupied village. Sara doesn't want to get her beautiful red shoes wet when all of the Jewish students are rounded up and marched to the woods one day. She's able to sneak away and hide without understanding what's happening. Julien, whose father works in the sewers, finds her and leads her to safety through the hidden world under the village. 

Sara's family is wealthy with many advantages in life and she's protected by a boy who has been bullied for his socioeconomic status and for a polio related disability. This adds a complexity to their relationship above and beyond the catastrophic events taking place. Ultimately, Julien's family hides Sara in their barn for several years, protecting and caring for her. Their story comes to light in relation to the character of Julian, the bully from Palacio's book Wonder. Sara is Julian's Grandmère from Palacio's Wonder universe. 

There's an author's note that share's Palacio's connection to the story and resource information about the war and the time period for further discussion or exploration. This would make an excellent companion read with Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, A Bag of Marbles: The Graphic Novel by Joseph Joffo, Kris, & Vincent Bailly, Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust by Loïc Dauvillier or The Diary of a Young Girl written by Anne Frank. White Bird serves as a reminder that beauty lives on even in the worst times.

Available to request for curbside pickup from your Madison Public Library and in eBook and audio from Wisconsin's Digital Library.

Sep 14, 2020