STARRED REVIEW
June 2018

A tender tale of found family

By Matilda Woods, illustrated by Anuska Allepuz
Review by

With flying fish that fling themselves onto the doorsteps of its rainbow-colored homes, Allora is a charming seaside town unlike any other. But this quiet and quirky town also has a heartbreaking past—one that brings together the characters of The Boy, the Bird, and the Coffin Maker.

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With flying fish that fling themselves onto the doorsteps of its rainbow-colored homes, Allora is a charming seaside town unlike any other. But this quiet and quirky town also has a heartbreaking past—one that brings together the characters of The Boy, the Bird, and the Coffin Maker.

Thirty years ago, Alberto the carpenter lost his wife and three children to a plague that ravaged Allora. Alberto built five coffins—one for each family member he’d lost and one for himself. But Alberto survived. Now an old man, he notices that some food has suddenly gone missing from his home. He discovers that the thieves are Tito and Fia, a small, hungry boy and an unusual bird. After many weeks, Alberto befriends the pair and convinces them to live with him rather than in an abandoned shed on the outskirts of town. Tito reminds Alberto of his own children and his long-forgotten happiness, and he begins to teach Tito carpentry, how to read and how to grieve his dead mother—whom Alberto built a coffin for just weeks ago. When Tito reveals that he and his mother originally came to Allora to escape his abusive father, Alberto is determined to protect him.

With magical realism reminiscent of Gabriel García Márquez, author Matilda Woods has crafted a tender tale about the power of kindness in light of tragedy, accompanied by magical illustrations from Anuska Allepuz. Woods’ simple yet beautiful prose is open, honest and bears the soul of each of her characters.

 

This article was originally published in the June 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Boy, the Bird, and the Coffin Maker

The Boy, the Bird, and the Coffin Maker

By Matilda Woods, illustrated by Anuska Allepuz
Philomel
ISBN 9780525515210

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