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The Ever-After Bird by Ann Rinaldi

The Ever-After Bird

by Ann Rinaldi

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Since I teach Georgia history, I had been searching for books to supplement my lessons about the Civil War in Georgia. I came across Rinaldi's "The Ever-After Bird" and quickly became captivated by the historical facts she easily weaves into her story. It is difficult sometimes to help 8th graders understand slavery and the events that led to the Civil War, but I feel as though this book will give them a better understanding of many aspects of this historic time period. ( )
  lms8esmith | Jan 13, 2012 |
Recently, after reading so many books re. the holocaust, I began to point fingers at the Germans, wondering just what kind of culture perpetrated such egregious violence against those whom they deemed less worth.

Then, I was snapped back to reality that cruelty and vile inhumanity isn't reserved merely for the Nazis. In fact, as I'm well aware, our country has a nasty, ugly history of barbarism.

My most recent read is one I highly recommend for many reasons, primarily because of the simple yet complex way in which Ann Rinaldi addressed the issue of American slavery and the culture that stoked the fires of injustice.

CeCe McGill is a young teen aged girl when her father, an abolitionist, is killed while helping slaves escape. Unkind to her, yet sensitive to the plight of slaves, her father risked his life to help others.

When her Uncle Alex is appointed her guardian, she learns he also is an abolitionist, but is wary of hypocrisy and doesn't trust him. As the story unfolds, a beautiful relationship develops.

Her Uncle is a doctor and an ornithologist who paints exquisite renditions of rare birds found in the south. When Cece accompanies her Uncle's and Erline, his black, educated assistant, traveling to Georgia in pursuit of the rare scarlet ibis, CeCe witnesses the horror of slavery.

Named the forever-after bird by slaves, it is thought that when this bird is spotted, those who are bound will be freed.

Accommodated at beautiful plantations, Earline must play the role of slave and CeCe must keep the secret that not only are they looking for rare birds, but in addition, they are providing guidance and resources for slaves to follow the Northern Star toward safety in the Underground Railway movement.

CeCe astutely observes the hypocrisy and cruelty of lily white rich plantation owners who claim to want what is best for society while brutally subjugating an entire population of people they feel inferior.

When black Earline falls in love with a white man, severe consequences occur and CeCe is left with a moral decision that will forever change her.

This is a beautiful multi-layered book with many themes. ( )
3 vote Whisper1 | Mar 18, 2011 |
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com

If he hadn't been determined to help runaway slaves, he would still be alive. That's why CeCe McGill hates abolitionists. Her father devoted his life and their home to giving aid as part of the Underground Railroad, but it was also what ended his own life when he was shot. His death left CeCe an orphan.

When CeCe's uncle, a doctor and an artist, arrives after her father's death, she is nervous about leaving the only home she's ever known to live with him in Ohio. It doesn't take long for her to realize he has a kind and gentle soul. So why is it a surprise when she learns he is an abolitionist just like her late father?

The difference is that CeCe finds herself more directly involved in the abolitionist movement. Uncle Alex and his assistant, a young, black college student, are planning a trip to the South. Uncle Alex wants to study rare birds, and his assistant wants to research the institution of slavery for her studies at Oberlin College. CeCe is invited along for the adventure.

The three travelers must adhere to the behaviors and customs of the South. Uncle Alex's assistant, Earline, will be assuming the role of slave, and CeCe and her uncle must act in character as her owner and mistress. If they are discovered, the punishment could result in death. CeCe is well aware that her uncle will be doing more than just searching for the scarlet ibis know as the Ever-After bird. He will also be helping point slaves in the direction of freedom.

CeCe's adventure is filled with educational opportunities as she learns about the world of rare birds and the workings of slavery. She sees the hope of freedom, but it is often colored with the tragedy of abusive treatment and even death. All she hopes is that they survive and, in some small way, make the world a better place.

Ann Rinaldi is well known for her historical fiction. THE EVER-AFTER BIRD paints a unique picture of slavery in the South, and the fight fought by brave individuals who wanted to see its end. Her descriptions compare the gentle refinement of the South with the startling reality of life behind the grand plantation houses and blooming magnolia bushes. ( )
  GeniusJen | Apr 15, 2010 |
Susan says: CeCe has just watched her abolitionist father shot in front of her, and she is now to go live with her Uncle Alex. He too is an abolitionist, but he is also an ornithologist, and he goes on a trip to the South, visiting plantations in search of the scarlet ibis, called the Ever-After bird by slaves. This book talks about slavery in a very upfront way. There is a lot of cruelty here, which in some ways makes the book more appropriate for a teen, although it is currently in youth fiction. There is mention of a freed black marrying a white man, and that he bedded her, but there is nothing else that would make it teen, so I'll probably leave it in youth. This would make a good read for a questioning middle schooler - someone who is learning about slavery and its terrible history. ( )
  59Square | Jul 8, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0152026207, Hardcover)

Now that her father is dead, CeCe McGill is left to wonder why he risked his life for the ragged slaves who came to their door in the dead of night. When her uncle, an ornithologist, insists she accompany him to Georgia on an expedition in search of the rare scarlet ibis, CeCe is surprised to learn there's a second reason for their journey: Along the way, Uncle Alex secretly points slaves north in the direction of the Underground Railroad.
Set against the backdrop of the tumultuous pre-Civil War South, The Ever-After Bird is the story of a young woman's education about the horrors of slavery and the realization about the kind of person she wants to become.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:52 -0400)

In 1851, thirteen-year-old Cecilia has her eyes opened to the horrors of slavery when she accompanies her ornithologist uncle on an expedition in search of the rare "Scarlet Ibis," and watches as he shows slaves the way to the Underground Railroad.

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