Monday, July 22, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Aviary

Today’s Pick: The Aviary  by Kathleen O’Dell

Published by Yearling/Random House, 2011

From Amazon:

Twelve-year-old Clara Dooley has spent her whole life in the crumbling Glendoveer mansion, home to a magician's widow, a cage full of exotic birds, and a decades-old mystery. Clara loves old Mrs. Glendoveer, but the birds in the aviary frighten her—they always seem to screech and squall whenever she's near. And then one day, the mynah bird speaks, and a mystery starts to unravel.

Clara discovers dark secrets about the family, and about her own past. Somehow the birds in the aviary seem to be at the center of it all, and Clara can't shake the feeling that they are trying to tell her something. . . .

My Take:

I liked the spookiness of this mystery, as well as the historical time period. It’s a quiet, mysterious story, so don’t expect a lot of fast-paced action (though there are some action sequences near the end). It reminded me a little of The Secret Garden, since the main character, Clara is stuck in the house all the time with a supposed heart condition. Talking birds and a magician's secrets were intriguing.

As a writer, I’d read this to study how the author used details to create atmosphere and setting. The language and dialogue structure suits the historical tone of the story.

Opening Line:

“As a young child, Clara Dooley had felt that the Glendoveer mansion contained the whole world.”

Other Info:

Kathleen O’Dell lives in Los Angeles. She once worked in a library at her children’s school and that’s what inspired her to try writing a children’s novel.

On her website, she gives this advice to aspiring writers: “When you find a writer you like, imitate them for fun.  Try to figure out what they do and how they do it.”

Other Books Include:

Agnes Parker... Girl in Progress

Agnes Parker... Happy Camper?

Agnes Parker... Keeping Cool in Middle School

Ophie Out of Oz

For more info, visit Kathleen O’Dell’s website.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was dreamed up by author Shannon Messenger. Visit her blog for an up-to-date list of all the bloggers who are participating and posting about middle grade books today!



  1. How crazy, I JUST read this about two weeks ago. I was intrigued by the cover, pulled in by the jacket flap, and loved the story. Thanks for featuring it!

  2. This sounds creepy to the max. (I'm not one of them, but there are a lot of bird-o-phobes out there too, including some members of my own family...)

  3. I've seen the cover before at the bookstore but never picked it up. Now I will remedy that because I can't resist a spooky and mystery package deal.


  4. I remember hearing about this one when it first came out. I do love a good mystery!

  5. I missed this one the first time around too but I'm always happy to hear about a good MG mystery. Thanks!

  6. I loved this one--glad you liked it, too!


  7. I have never heard of this one- but I love the cover and the description has me quite curious. It sounds unique and interesting. Plus, I like creepy. I have a friend who is afraid of birds- so I won't share it with her. :)

    Thanks for sharing!


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