The Aviary by Kathleen O’Dell (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2011, 352pp.)
In 1855, six children from a wealthy New England family, the Glendoveers, were kidnapped for ransom. When their kidnapper’s getaway boat was capsized during a storm, the children drowned - all except for the baby, Elliot, who was never found. Decades later, their grieving mother lies on her deathbed in their old family home, cared for by a housekeeper and her daughter, 12-year-old Clara. Entrusted with the care of Mrs. Glendoveer’s aviary, young Clara is, at first, unnerved by the noisy birds. But when one of the birds keeps calling out the name “Elliot”, she becomes curious. When she learns of the family’s tragic history, she decides to solve the mystery of the missing child’s whereabouts. Despite the children’s morbid demise by drowning, this turns out to be a lovely story. I definitely have to say that with its creative premise and strong heroine, it’s got plenty of magic to go around. Recommended for Ages 9-12.
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