The Birdman


32 pages
ISBN 0-88776-740-0
DDC jC813'.54





Illustrations by Annouchka Gravel Galouchko and Stéphan Daigle
Reviewed by Sandy Campbell

Sandy Campbell is a reference librarian in the Science and Technology Library at the University of Alberta.


Noor Nobi lives in Calcutta. He makes a living for his family by sewing
baby clothes. When his children are accidentally killed, he is grief
stricken. In his grief he wanders into a market where he sees illegally
caught birds for sale. He buys and releases them, and somehow that
relieves his grief. After that he spends all his money buying and
releasing birds.

The book is richly illustrated with Indian-themed drawings. Many images
incorporate the look of bright and beautiful Indian fabrics, the kind
that Noor Nobi would have sewn.

In keeping with fairy tales, the drawings are very imaginative (e.g., a
cow is red, green, purple, blue, and yellow), and some images are
symbolic (e.g., the sewing machine morphs into the head of an animal; a
bird with outstretched wings forms a mask over Noor Nobi’s face, which
is behind bars; a child’s face is set on the body of a bird, invoking
the idea of reincarnation).

At the end of the tale, readers are informed that this is a true story,
and that the real Noor Nobi is to this day sewing baby clothes and
releasing birds in Calcutta. By presenting Noor Nobi’s story in the
fairy-tale format, the author takes the story beyond that of one man to
a universal message of finding hope and fulfillment when faced with
tragedy and despair. Highly recommended.


Charles, Veronika Martenova., “The Birdman,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 16, 2024,