Will a spelling bee be the answer to all of Bird’s problems?
All her life, all Bird has ever wanted is to be noticed in her small town and to get to Disney World. As it turns out, Bird just might have a chance to realize at least one of her goals because of a state spelling bee, and she might get to make a friend along the way – a boy named Harlem Tate who has just moved to Freedom. Harlem seems like a kindred spirit – someone like Bird, whom people don’t usually take the time to find the good in. (Unless it’s someone like Miss Delphine, who always makes Bird feel special.) But as much as Bird tries to get his attention, Harlem is not easily won over. Then Harlem agrees to be her partner in the spelling bee, and if they study hard enough, the two might just win everything Bird’s always wanted.
In Barbara O’Connor’s funny new novel, a spunky young girl discovers that sometimes all it takes to feel famous is a little recognition from true friends.
Sixth-grader Burdette "Bird" Weaver joins the ranks of O'Connor's (Me and Rupert Goody; Moonpie and Ivy) unflappable and memorable smalltown narrators. When Harlem Tate moves to Freedom, Ga., and winds up in Bird's class, she wants to make friends with him "before somebody poisons his mind with lies" about her. She confides her wish during one of her daily visits to her neighbor, Miss Delphine, who "can look right through [a person's] mean spirit and find something the rest of us overlooked." After a few false starts with Harlem, one day Bird sees her chance: a spelling bee. Her teacher has said they must enter the contest with a partner, and Bird sets her sights on the mysterious new boy. O'Connor constructs the first-person narrative in such a way that readers can see why it may be challenging for Bird to make friends; but the girl's conversations with empathetic Miss Delphine also bring out Bird's humor and big heart beneath her rough edges. Slowly, Bird's dreams of "fame and glory" (winning a trip to Disney World as top prize in the spelling contest) become secondary to the real-life highs and lows of being a true friend. Her missteps along the way will be as recognizable to readers as the universal rewards of friendship. Ages 8-12. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.