Once upon a time, six brothers were turned into swans. And once upon a time, the spell was broken, giving back to each brother his human form... all except for Ardwin, the youngest. He was left with one arm enchanted, forever a wing.
And so he grows up, marked by difference, a prince struggling to find his place in his father's kingdom while his wing pulls him toward the open sky. Ardwin barely knows how to speak to his family, yet his wing gives him the power to understand every other creature in the forest.
Half the time Ardwin wishes his wing were gone. Yet when he learns that his father plans to have the wing severed, he knows he must flee... to save his life and find his way.
Birdwing is the story of a boy who falls, half-healed, out of myth and into the world. Can a young man like that find peace? Or will his very existence become grounds for war?
Reviews and Awards
Washington Post 2005 Best Kid's Book
Book Sense Winter Pick
Selected to New York Public Library's List of Books for the Teen Age 2006
Chicago Public Library "Best of the Best"
"Martin's intricate story traces the lives of each minor player and explains some of the mysterious workings of the major characters, including a deeper exploration of the motivations of the witch who sparked the chain of events. The depictions of the fated love of Ardwin and Alene, the princess with a tortured past he saves, and Ardwin's difficult struggle toward awakening into his own strengths are credible and powerful. A dramatic and philosophical work, this will encourage readers to consider the possibility that everyone carries blessings disguised as curses." - The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"An emotive fairytale extension thoughtfully explores the life of Ardwin, a prince with a swan's wing instead of a left arm... The journey holds... surprises... [with] memorable images created along the way as Martin touchingly weaves together fairy tale, the wildness of animals and lyrical characterization." - Kirkus Reviews
"In a magical tale woven by master storyteller Rafe Martin, characters have "fallen out of legend" into a tale of extraordinary beauty and philosophical depth. An evil queen, an enchantress, a winged warrior, a gray-eyed goose girl who's really a princess, a snow lion, giants, mechanical men, and a sarcastic talking horse mix it up in a fairy tale adventure as inventive and soaring as Harry Potter and Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials... Martin has made a fairy tale world completely believable and readers... will ponder deep questions of what it means to be human, whether differences are curses or gifts, and how to make one's life a worthy story." - Bookpage
"Extraordinary... The marvelous thing about Birdwing is that, given its highly literary origins, it is so tough, colloquial, funny and moving." - The Washington Post
Rafe Martin has written an absolutely faithful and exceedingly satisfying continuation of "The Six Swans." - New England Children's Book Advisory, rated a "desert island book for all time."
"The many original characters and unusual adventure scenes ensure that readers will remember this well-paced fantasy." - Booklist
"A ripping good story." - Voice of Youth Advocates
"'What if?' provides a firm platform for the author's extended (358 page) incredibly imaginative back story for the old Grimm tale "The Six Swans."... Throughout, Martin evokes strong human emotions. The scene where Rose and Ardwin confront each other depicts two very conflicted adults with mixed feelings of duty and choice, and the consequences of choosing. Such intense emotion is leavened, for example, in the humor of the innkeeper's wife, a terrible cook with a direct link to Mrs. Malaprop. In all, a deeply satisfying read!" - John Warren Stewig, Carthage College Center for Children's Literature.
Trim Size: 5 1/2" x 8 1/4"
Page Count: 368
Foreign Rights: Writer's House, LLC
Translation Rights: Writer's House, LLC
Rights Available? yes