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Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets
Cover of Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets
Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets
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2014 Morris Award finalist

"I hate myself but I love Walt Whitman, the kook. Always positive. I need to be more positive, so I wake myself up every morning with a song of myself." Sixteen-year-old James Whitman has been yawping (à la Whitman) at his abusive father ever since he kicked his beloved older sister, Jorie, out of the house. James's painful struggle with anxiety and depression—along with his ongoing quest to understand what led to his self-destructive sister's exile—make for a heart-rending read, but his wild, exuberant Whitmanization of the world and keen sense of humor keep this emotionally charged debut novel buoyant.

2014 Morris Award finalist

"I hate myself but I love Walt Whitman, the kook. Always positive. I need to be more positive, so I wake myself up every morning with a song of myself." Sixteen-year-old James Whitman has been yawping (à la Whitman) at his abusive father ever since he kicked his beloved older sister, Jorie, out of the house. James's painful struggle with anxiety and depression—along with his ongoing quest to understand what led to his self-destructive sister's exile—make for a heart-rending read, but his wild, exuberant Whitmanization of the world and keen sense of humor keep this emotionally charged debut novel buoyant.

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Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    4.7
  • Lexile:
    710
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Text Difficulty:
    3

Recommended for you

 
Awards-
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 4, 2013
    This sensitive first novel portrays the struggle of 16-year-old James Whit-man to overcome anxiety and depression. James blames himself for his older sister’s expulsion from their home and estrangement from their bullying parents. Roskos effectively sketches James as a boy who is far more comfortable inside his own head than in connecting with others (case in point, he hugs trees to make himself feel better and seeks advice from Dr. Bird, an imaginary pigeon therapist). Throughout, James takes comfort in the poetry of Walt Whitman, often co-opting the writer’s literary techniques in his narration (“I sound my morning yawp! I blast out my inner glow at the sunshine to try to shout it down. To have it lift me up. For someone, somewhere, to see me”). Friendships old and new, along with James’s growing interest in his own poetry and photography, help him gain confidence and understanding, especially as he discovers unsettling secrets about his sister. Bravely facing real sorrow, James confronts his problems with grace and courage. Ages 14–up. Agent: Sara Crowe, Harvey Klinger.

  • School Library Journal

    April 1, 2013

    Gr 9 Up-James Whitman tries to adopt the spirit of Walt Whitman, loving nature and sounding a loud YAWP to show proof of his existence, but he is having a rough time keeping his poetic chin up lately. His older sister, Jorie, has been expelled from their high school and his abusive parents throw her out of their house. James is feeling guilty about not standing up for her and is depressed about his own life. He is the kind of teen who will run into traffic to try and save an injured bird, but he's also an introspective poet who has frequent suicidal thoughts. His own internal therapist is a pigeon he calls Dr. Bird, and since James is a smart guy, she offers good advice. But since James is also, as he puts it, "wired funny," he does not always listen to Dr. Bird. Since he lives in his head so much, the novel's pace can be a bit slow. Roskos perfectly captures the voice of a teen, but this boy is unbelievably self-aware. Readers only see tiny bits of his parents through his eyes. This is problematic, as James is not the most reliable of narrators, but that certainly adds to readers' empathy. Although Jorie cuts herself and James has suicidal thoughts, the narrative points in a slightly more positive direction for them both by the end as James is able to confront his parents and demand their assistance in getting him help.-Geri Diorio, Ridgefield Library, CT

    Copyright 2013 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets
Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets
Evan Roskos
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