December is used to moving in and out of foster homes and schools, with almost no constants in her life. It's a good thing she knows that she's really a bird, awaiting transformation, so those human connections wouldn't serve her well anyway. But when she starts to find herself liking her new foster mother and making a friend, what will become of all her plans for flight? Just like the birds she loves, December is slightly otherworldly and mysterious, but also like them, getting to know her is worth it to uncover the delicate and poetic beauty beneath her surface. Extraordinary Birds covers topics that could easily veer into heavy-handed moralizing, but instead Stark-McGinnis has given us simple stories of complex people and allowed the reader to make connections and come to conclusions on their own. A quiet but powerful debut from an author to watch.— From Sarah
“Sandy Stark-McGinnis brilliantly and passionately writes about 11-year-old December’sreluctant and courageous struggle from heartbreaking disappointment to trust. After bouncing around from one unhappy foster home to another, December has found her own way to cope with the rejection and pain of a devastating childhood. McGinnis writes a sensitive story about family, trust, bullying, mental health, and identity in a way that middle-grade kids can empathize with. I’m sure this novel will find its way into many classrooms and into the hearts of readers everywhere.”
— Sara Ornelas, Blue Baboon Books, Wichita, KS
For fans of The Thing About Jellyfish, Counting by 7s, and Fish in a Tree, a heartbreaking and hopeful debut novel about a unique young girl on a journey to find home.
December believes she is a bird. The scar on her back is where her wings will sprout, and one day soon, she will soar away. It will not matter that she has no permanent home. Her destiny is in the sky.
But then she's placed with foster mom Eleanor, a kind woman who volunteers at an animal rescue and has secrets of her own. December begins to see that her story could end a different way – but could she ever be happy down on the ground?
In her arresting debut, Sandy Stark-McGinnis offers and inspiring about family, friendship, and finding where you belong.
Sandy Stark-McGinnis is a debut author and award-winning poet whose work has appeared in Quercus Review, In the Grove, and Penumbra. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Sandy lives with her husband and children in California, where she works as a fifth grade teacher.
“A beautiful story filled with heart.” —Holly Goldberg Sloan, author of Counting by 7s and coauthor of To Night Owl from Dogfish.
“An amazing debut -- filled with heart, lyrical prose, and a heroine who soars!” —Jewell Parker Rhodes, New York Times bestselling author of Ghost Boys
“A heartbreaking and hopeful story about a young girl who learns the power of kindness and the beauty of belonging.” —School Library Journal, starred review
“Poignant…this heartbreaking but ultimately redemptive middle grade novel shows the beauty of accepting one's true self and finding a place to belong.” —Foreword Reviews, starred review
“Stark-McGinnis' prose is carefully crafted, direct, and convincing… appealingly hopeful.” —Kirkus Reviews
“This ably constructed first-person narrative is meant to tug at the heartstrings and it surely does, encouraging readers to hope for a happy ending to this affecting story.”” —Booklist
“Stark-McGinnis adds a vivid artistic flourish with the avian theme [and] writes with smooth sympathy… This is a gracefully written modern take on the orphan story.” —BCCB
“This soulful story will wing its way straight into your heart.” —Jess Keating, zoologist and author of the My Life is a Zoo series
“Such a tender story. You'll root for this bird-loving girl to soar.” —Sally Pla, award-winning author of The Someday Birds
“An emotional tale about finding one's home and facing one's truth...An extraordinary debut!” —Ellie Terry, author of Forget Me Not