Books by Rafe Martin

The Language of Birds

Illustrated by Susan Gaber
G. P. Putnam

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Ivan and Vasilii are as different as brothers can be. When their father sends them out to prove themselves in the wide world, Vasilii is only out for himself, while Ivan approaches the future with a generous heart. When a thoughtful gesture saves the life of a baby bird, Ivan is granted a wish from the bird’s mother. “I wish to always understand the language of the birds,” he says. And so it is.

Their father and Vasilii mock this humble gift and laugh at the messages Ivan relates from the birds, even when they warn of danger. It’s not until Vasilii is threatened with death that the magnitude of Ivan’s previous gift is fully appreciated.

“In this resonant retelling of a Russian folktale a rich merchant has two sons: Vasilii, the elder who squanders his money on every pleasure, and Ivan, who rescues a baby bird. The bird’s grateful mother grants Ivan a wish--to understand the language of the birds--which saves the brothers....Satisfying on many levels.”       —Booklist


“This is an unusually robust, inviting folktale setting and Martin peoples it with amiable characters headed for an even more amiable conclusion.”
      —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books