The Birdman

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Tundra Books, 2006 - Juvenile Nonfiction - 32 pages
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Noor Nobi is a broken man, wandering the streets of Calcutta with no reason to live. His three children, snatched from him in a cruel accident, were everything he worked for and loved. But one day, he enters a crowded market and sees a bird, caged and frightened and sick. With very little money in his pocket, he waits until the vendor is closing up.

Quickly, Noor Nobi bargains and, happy to get anything for the sickly thing, the vendor accepts his offer. For some reason Noor Nobi cannot explain, it is important for him to nurse the bird back to health. When it is finally able to fly, Noor Nobi takes his bird to a big Banyan tree and releases it. Only then is he able to weep and fully grieve for his children.

Before Noor Nobi knows it, he is back at work and taking his weekly earnings to the market where he continues to buy, heal, and free as many birds as he can. Crowds gather; some laugh and say he is crazy, some stand reverently, some don’t know what to think. But Noor Nobi’s kindness saves a growing number of birds, and the birds, in turn, give him new purpose.

Author Veronika Martenova Charles read a short newspaper article about the “Birdman” of Calcutta and her imagination took flight. She traveled to India, found Noor Nobi, and witnessed the freeing of the birds for herself.

The Birdman is a touching, true story, tenderly illustrated by Annouchka Gravel Galouchko and Stéphan Daigle. It is accompanied by an afterword, diary entries, and photographs of the author’s experience.

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About the author (2006)

Veronika Martenova Charles is an award-winning author and illustrator whose books include: Maiden of the Mist: A Legend of Niagara Falls; Stretch, Swallow, & Stare; The Crane Girl; and The Birdman. Veronika has studied at Ryerson University, the Ontario College or Art and Design, and recently completed her graduate studies in Folklore at York University. Veronika Martenova Charles lives in Toronto.

A native of Montreal, Annouchka Gravel Galouchko has lived in Iran, Egypt, Mexico, and Austria. Winner of a Governor General’s Award for illustration and nominee for French language text (Sho et les dragons d’eau), she has exhibited her paintings widely.
Annouchka’s partner, Stéphan Daigle, is an internationally known painter and illustrator of books, magazines, and corporate images. He, too, was born in Montreal. The couple’s collaboration on The Birdman has resulted in an exceptional blend of color and design, along with depth and symbolism that belie its prettiness. Stéphan and Annouchka live in Quebec with their eight-year-old son, Sacha.

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