I’d heard a lot about Bird Face from a lot of my fellow ACFW authors (of which Cynthia T. Toney is one), so I was excited when I got the chance to read her sweet coming-of-age story.
Author: Cynthia T. Toney
Genre: contemporary fiction
Age group: upper middle grade (11-14)
Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Wendy Robichaud has a lot going on in her life. She’s quiet and artistic, but usually lets her own talents takes a second seat behind her ballerina of a best friend Jennifer. Wendy’s parents have divorced, and her dad’s remarried. She may not care that much that she’s not popular like Tookie and the Sticks, but she does care when a brainiac named John bullies her with taunts of “Bird Face” because of her beak-like nose. And she does wonder who’s been leaving yellow sticky notes for her. Add to all that, preparations for a spring arts program, caring for a bunch of abandoned puppies, and trying out for the school track team, and Wendy’s going to have her hands full as she makes the transition from eighth grade to high school.
I found this to be a very sweet and often humorous look at growing up in the face of bullying and trying to figure out what constitutes a good and valid friendship. Wendy struggles with issues lots of middle school students do, and Ms. Toney tackles these issues in a realistic yet funny way (Seriously, I think Tookie and the Sticks needs to be the name of a band!).
Throughout the story, we get a few glimpses into how Wendy’s Catholic faith is helping to guide her through the murky waters of early adolescence. One moment I found particularly humorous was when Wendy is helping her mom with some laundry, and she accidentally gets a towel snagged on a glass parrot her mom had “rescued” during a roadside scavenger hunt. Wendy’s reaction made me laugh:
“Oh. . . .!” I clamped my lips together, having made a promise to Father Gerard at my last confession not to cuss.
Lots of Christian authors find various ways to get around the swearing, but I liked how Ms. Toney handled it by acknowledging that a lot of young teens would be tempted to let a little swear slip, but still have her character be a girl trying to doing the right thing.
You can learn more about author Cynthia T. Toney on her website.