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The Birdman

Written by Veronika Martenova Charles
Ilustrated by Annouchka Gravel Galouchko and Stéphan Daigle

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.


• Golden Oak Award, Ontario Library Association, Nominee, 2009
• Silver Birch Award, Ontario Library Association, Nominee, 2008
• Rocky Mountain Book Award, Finalist, 2008
• Sigurd F. Olson Award for Nature Writing, Winner, 2007
• Henry Bergh Children's Book Award, ASPCAA, Finalist, 2007
• Canadian Children's Book Centre Our Choice Starred Designation, 2007
• KIND Children's Book Award Honor Book, 2007
• Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award, Finalist, 2007
• Book of the Month, August 2007, Rutgers State University of New Jersey
• Governor General's Literary Awards for Children's Literature, illustration, Finalist, 2006

click to enlarge

published by Tundra Books

Cover artwork used with permission.
All rights reserved.

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© copyright Veronika Martenova Charles. Artwork used by permission. Website by Hoffworks