Posted by: jeannineatkins | January 16, 2015

What I’m Reading: Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose

Blue Birds give us a vividly imagined account of the historic arrival of a British ship on Roanoke island in 1587 as told by two girls who record their steps toward and away from each other. Most often we get a few poems from one girl before switching point of view – just enough time so the change isn’t jarring, but not changing so often we feel torn. Both Alis and Kimi are struggling with loss while keeping alive curiosity and longing for more. One girl is angrier than the other, and we see the push-pull of her need. It’s a beautiful evocation not only of friendship, but really of first love: Caroline Starr Rose gives their growing bond that much respect.


The different backgrounds — Alis from London, Kimi native to Roanoke– are woven into their thoughts, but never take over. The author seems certain enough of her research to let most of it go. Blue Birds is a story of two people, alike and unalike, finding each other and themselves against land claims and fighting as twelve year olds seem likely to view such. They are bystanders to political decisions, but they form opinions, and step in to make change in wholly believable ways. One is the simple use of the word, “Go!” which changes everything. That two-letter word powerfully reappears at the end of the book, a refrain underscoring the poetry, much like the wooden bird that holds a memory for Alis and is seen as a montoac or powerful talisman by Kimi. It’s fitting that this object is the title, for memory and power come together in this remarkable verse novel.

BB PDF pic for blog posts 2

This post is part of a week-long celebration in honor of the book Blue Birds. Author Caroline Starr Rose is giving away a downloadable PDF of this beautiful Blue Birds quote (created by Annie Barnett of Be Small Studios) for anyone who pre-orders the book from January 12-19. Simply click through to order from AmazonBarnes and NobleBooks A MillionIndieBound, or Powell’s, then email a copy of your receipt to by Monday, January 19. PDFs will be sent out January 20.

For more Poetry Friday posts, please visit:  Irene Latham at Live Your Poem.


  1. My copy is preordered through the Odyssey! The print is beautiful.

  2. So nice you preordered at the Odyssey. We are so lucky to have them (and they are lucky to have you, too!) I can’t wait for you to read this and we can talk! I love the two voices, which you don’t much see in this genre.

  3. I was lucky enough to read this as an ARC! Gorgeous! And I love Caroline’s PDF giveaway. So beautiful. Thank you for sharing. xo

    • Thanks, Irene. The PDF is a treasure, and I admire Caroline’s creativity in getting out word about the lovely book.

  4. I’m a huge fan of Caroline’s work–can’t wait to read this since it’s set relatively close to my stomping ground.

    • I think you’ll enjoy this stepping back in time, Candice!

  5. This looks like a really interesting book. Thanks for sharing it.

    • So much here for lovers of poetry and story. Thanks for reading!

  6. I’ve been enjoying introducing verse novels to my class, and this looks wonderful, Jeannine. Thanks for sharing-have pre-ordered!

    • Your students will enjoy these believably brave girls. If only all children had generous, smart, and kind teachers like you!

  7. Very happy to see a new Caroline Starr Rose verse novel! Thanks for the review, Jeannine.

    • Yes, it is exciting! Another time, another place … you will love it!

  8. This sounds good — love the Virginia setting. Nice review!

    • Thanks, Jama. Yes, these girls give a fascinating look into Virginia of centuries ago.

  9. This sounds really lovely. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Thanks! I hope you get a chance to read the book!

  10. Guess what I JUST pre-ordered the other day?!?! YAY! I’m thrilled that she’s offering this generous gift — can’t wait to read it!

    • Mary Lee, so great to “see” you — your name makes me smile. And love that you’ll soon read Blue Birds. The quote shows all the thought Caroline put behind it to make something of beauty — glad you can enjoy that, too! And the weekend, I hope!

  11. Thanks for highlighting this book! It sounds wonderful, and is new to me. Adding it to my TBR list now!

    • Thanks, Catherine. I don’t know if you read MAY B, which has lots of fans. This follows two points of view which will make it somewhat more challenging for middle grade readers, but well worth it, and great for older readers, too.

  12. Oh wow, I didn’t know about this book – will definitely be on the look out for it – I have a special leaning towards novels-in-verse.

    • Hi, Myra — the book won’t be published until March, so not surprising it hasn’t crossed your path. But i think you will love it!

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