Caroline Starr Rose’s new historical novel, Blue Birds, gives middle grade readers an intriguing glimpse of some of the earliest settlers who came to the New World. Vivid personalities bring the 16th-century settlement of Roanoke, Virginia, to life as one young settler from England finds a friend who will change her life.
Twelve-year-old Alis is looking forward to the adventure of leaving the dirty and smelly London of 1587, even though she will be the only girl making the journey to the New World. Shortly after her arrival, Alis encounters Kimi, who belongs to the Roanoke tribe. The two girls secretly meet in the woods and develop a firm friendship, despite the teachings of their respective cultures and initial feelings of distrust and anger. The girls cement their bond by each exchanging a mantoac, a spiritual object of protection for the owner. Alis and Kimi’s bond is tested when Alis makes a decision that will affect not only her friendship but ultimately the fate of her family.
Free-verse lines bring to life each girl’s experiences and thoughts as they grow to understand not only new cultures but also themselves. Enduring themes of love, friendship, sacrifice and loyalty reach across the centuries to connect with readers. An appendix contains a helpful glossary of the Native American phrases used in the novel and the history of Roanoke.