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Bird by Rita Murphy
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As a child, Miranda was carried on the wind to Bourne Manor and taken in by the widow Wysteria Barrows. Wysteria gives her a place to live, work to do, and boots with steel plates to anchor her to the ground, lest she blow away on the next gust. But the house is cold and somehow menacing, and there are secrets in the house that Miranda can only hope to discover while she still has the opportunity to break free.

To call this "breezy" is to do it a disservice, but it does have the airy quality of being outside in a light wind. The lyrical writing drives the narrative, but feels a little bogged down in plot. There's a sense of desperation in Miranda that translates in the text to a subtle urgency, and the open-ended but hopeful conclusion makes this reader, at least, wish all the best for Miranda in her future endeavors. ( )
  librarybrandy | Mar 31, 2013 |
Bird is a bewitching little story - as slight as Miranda herself, and as full of enchantment and wonder. Well-written and full of mystery, the plot is intriguing and interesting. What exactly is Miranda? And is Wysteria really the villain of the piece or is it the house itself? These questions and Rita Murphy's vivid descriptions of the coast kept me turning pages until the end. The only thing that I could have wished for would be more pages to help develop the story of Bourne Manor. I would have loved more on the history of the place and it's former inhabitants.

It was a short journey but one well worth my time, and I thoroughly enjoyed being lost within the pages. Bird is a delightful and whimsical mystery. ( )
  susanbevans | Jun 6, 2010 |
Heavy steel boots keep Miranda anchored, otherwise her slight frame would be snatched up and blown away by the wind. It's only one of the strange things about Miranda, whose life with the reclusive Wysteria in the oddly forbidding Bourne Manor is subject to all sorts of speculation by the locals. What is the secret of Bourne Manor? Will Miranda find out in time to escape?

A short, odd little book which is nevertheless very readable. Almost gothic in tone, the ending is strangely abrupt which is too bad, as the story deserves better. ( )
  SunnySD | Nov 12, 2009 |
Miranda is a slight girl who can be carried away by the wind. She eventually escapes Wisteria, and the sinister house. She and Farley fly away, Farley on a specially made kite, and Miranda holding his hand, being carried by the wind. Satisfying story. ( )
  melodyreads | Apr 6, 2009 |
Miranda is a slight girl who is easily lifted and carried by the wind. It deposited her next to Bourne Manor, an imposing house that is home to the widow Wysteria and the four Hounds. Wysteria takes Miranda in - the girl has no memory of where she came from before the wind took her - and puts her to work mending nets for the local fisherman. She also makes Miranda wear a pair of weighted shoes, to keep her from flying off again. As the years pass, Miranda learns some of the secrets of the Manor, hearing rumors of a lost treasure and discovering an attic full of beautiful kites built my Wysteria's dead husband. After the appearance of a friendly boy named Farley, Miranda realizes that the Manor has an insidious hold on her and seeks a way to escape.

I don't know how a book that is relatively short can come across as taking too long to develop, and yet still not completely tell a story. This is a fairly intriguing plot when you boil it down to its basics: Miranda is a mysterious girl who can be carried by the wind, she's trapped in Bourne Manor by the house or by Wysteria, the house is cursed/haunted and corrupts its inhabitants, and there's a mystery about Wysteria's husband that Miranda and Farley solve. A third of the book is dedicated to explaining the daily life of Miranda and Wysteria, and this is just way too long. It's difficult to tell if Wysteria is supposed to be a villain (she has trapped Miranda in the house and works her pretty hard) or just an old woman who's trying to get by (they're often starving) and has succumbed to the house's influence. You feel sorry for her, particularly when she gets pneumonia. The house itself is a confusing character - it's only in the last couple of chapters that it becomes malevolent. It would've been much more effective to show the house's influence over the seven years (which pass in the first 28 pages) Miranda lives there, rather than the few weeks at the end of the story.

The plot really picks up when Farley becomes a regular character and he gives Miranda some of her background. The language is pretty and on the verge of being purple prose. However, for all the descriptions we get, I had a terrible time understanding just how small or how old Miranda was. I also couldn't tell who the intended audience is for this book - professional reviews suggest tweens, but the language is just so proper that I think it would be a hard sell. The cover (which is probably the best thing about the book), the length, and the plot make me think it's for children, but I think the language works even less for that crowd.

Overall, this just feels like a very underdeveloped story. If you chopped out the first third of the book and gave more depth to Miranda, Wysteria, and the house, this would be much better. ( )
  tiamatq | Feb 20, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385730187, Hardcover)

A GIRL EASILY carried off by the wind.

An elderly widow whose husband died under strange circumstances.

An isolated dwelling that breeds fear.

Miranda has no recollection of where she came from—only that years ago, a gust of wind deposited her outside Bourne Manor. The Manor’s sole inhabitant, Wysteria Barrows, took Miranda in and promptly outfitted her with special boots—boots weighted with steel bars to keep her anchored to the ground. But aside from shelter and clothing, Miranda receives little warmth from the aging widow. The Manor, too, is a cold place, full of drafts and locked doors. Full of menace. Full of secrets.

Then one day a boy named Farley appears. Farley helps Miranda embrace her destiny with the wind . . . and uncover the Manor’s hidden past.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:58 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Miranda, a small, delicate girl easily carried off by the wind, lands at Bourne Manor on the coast of Lake Champlain and is raised by the dour Wysteria Barrows, but she begins to believe rumors that the Manor is cursed and, aided by a new friend and kites secreted in an attic, seeks to escape.… (more)

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