The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker by Matilda Woods
|The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker by Matilda Woods|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: A moving, magical fairytale that weaves its gentle charm through the delightful characters and a brilliant story.|
|Buy? yes||Borrow? yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: May 2017|
|External links: Author's website|
Alberto is a carpenter, the very best in the town of Allora. But after the plague sweeps through the town, taking many of the citizens and Alberto's wife and children, he turns his skills away from furniture and toys to making coffins. Wrapped in sadness, and waiting only for the plague to come and claim his life too, Alberto lives alone, keeping company with the dead who are delivered to his house to await their coffin. One day, however, he realises that he must have a living visitor, as food starts to go missing. He begins to leave scraps of food, to try and discover who his mystery thief is…
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It feels, delightfully, like a traditional old fairytale and yet the story is new. It is written very descriptively, so that the magical town of Allora leaps into life in your mind, with its flying fish and beautifully coloured houses. Alberto is a charming character, and although the story plunges very quickly into a deep sadness, because of the death of Alberto's family, it remains positive and hopeful since the arrival of the little boy, Tito, into his life brings more magic and adventure. I hesitate to tell you too much of the story, since I don't want to spoil it, but along with Alberto and Tito there is a very fat mayor who commissions a ridiculously expensive and elaborate coffin, in preparation for his death, and there are nosy neighbours, and kind friends, and Fia the magical bird with the crooked wing. There's a bad guy, because of course there's always someone threatening in a fairytale, and there's adventure and suspense galore.
The friendship that grows between Alberto and Tito is heartwarming to read. I liked Alberto very much, and his gentle nature helps to ease Tito's fears and anxieties. I enjoyed reading about Tito learning to make coffins and be a carpenter too, and it's easy to imagine the two of them working happily together. I also liked the positive and hopeful nature of the book, so even when things seem bleak there is the underlying sense that it will all be okay in the end, which is a reassuring feeling to have, whether it's in a book, or in your life in general. The various different characters who pop in and out of the book are well depicted, so the busybody neighbours are instantly recognisable, and there is Enzo the baker, who supports his friend so loyally and also, of course, bakes delights such as a triple cream gateaux with extra layers of custard and butterscotch jam!
The story is imaginative, and there is another story within this story, that Alberto reads to Tito, and I liked the weaving of the two together. Beautifully written, I look forward to reading more stories by this author.
Further reading suggestion: You might also enjoy reading The Iron Man by Ted Hughes or Magical Princess Stories by Margaret Mayo, Geraldine McCaughrean, Rose Impey, Andrew Matthews, Jane Ray, Ian Beck, Angela Barrett, Emma Chichester Clark and Alan Snow.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker by Matilda Woods at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker by Matilda Woods at Amazon.com.
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