“This is a story grounded in familiar fairy tale land – the story of Thumbelina who grew up on a leaf fed by squirrels and cushioned by birds.”

 

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

This is a story grounded in familiar fairy tale land – the story of Thumbelina who grew up on a leaf fed by squirrels and cushioned by birds. Oddbird is the story of a tiny girl – presumably in this case larger than a thumb since she can clutch a pigeon round the neck – brought up by pigeons.

She once belonged in a house but now is quite happy being a bird, even an odd one. However her pigeon mother feels that she should go back to the house she came from and Oddy’s pigeon brother Pikku takes her back to a house she half remembers, to live with a woman she calls “Nani” who doesn’t find her size at all odd.

Anupa Lal describes what it must be like to be a Thumbelina child in a world of normal people, dwarfed by furniture and ordinary things – with one terrifying sequence in the corner shop when the child persuades Nani to take her shopping. Oddy finds the human world to be a cage and her closest friends remain squirrels and birds.

Lal’s description of animal life is detailed including observations of how squirrels store nuts and how small animals manage to escape predators.  She also implies that young male human can be unnecessarily brutal to those smaller than themselves. Through Oddbird she tells a story of what family really means.

Perhaps Lal should not have tried to normalise Oddy’s origins because it adds a false note to an otherwise intriguing story and does not really contribute to the story. In the end Oddy is free and happy with the possibility of more stories on the anvil.

 

Reviewed by:

Anjana Basu

Added 3rd August 2016

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Anjana Basu

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