Author: Zetta Elliott
Plot Summary: Young Mekhai, better known as Bird, loves to draw. With drawings, he can erase the things that don't turn out right. In real life, problems aren't so easily fixed. As Bird struggles to understand the death of his beloved grandfather and his older brother's drug addiction, he escapes into his art. Drawing is an outlet for Bird's emotions and imagination, and provides a path to making sense of his world. In time, with the help of his grandfather's friend, Bird finds his own special somethin' and wings to fly. Told with spare grace, Bird is a touching look at a young boy coping with real-life troubles. Readers will be heartened by Bird s quiet resilience, and moved by the healing power of putting pencil to paper.
Posted In: Aesthetics, Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy

Discussion Questions

Art and Reality

  • Is Bird’s grandfather correct when he says that his brother’s graffiti is not art? Is art only found museums?
  • Does the emotions Bird feels when he looks at his brother’s art play a role in the decision about whether Bird’s brother’s graffiti is art?
  • If we define art as determined by its function, is Bird’s work art? His brother’s? What is the function of Bird’s art vs. his brother’s?
  • How does Bird’s art reflect the reality of his situation?
  • How do you think Bird’s art makes him feel about his family situation?
  • Can art change reality?
  • Who decides what is art?

Death and Religion

  • Why does it makes “sense” to Bird that his grandfather is watching over Marcus?
  • How does Bird’s spiritual belief’s influence how he creates art?
  • How does Bird’s belief in heaven change the way he views his brother’s and grandfather’s passing?
  • If others in society do not share your beliefs, does that make them not real or less real?
  • What role does the existence of heaven have in our society?
  • How did Marcus’ addiction affect his family? Could the family have done anything to save Marcus?
  • What obstacles could have prevented Marcus from making different choices?

Justice and Obligation

  • Does society have an obligation to those whose ability to make choices is impeded by obstacles?
  • What is justice?