Hardcover Jacket Illustration by Dennise Clouse
Paperback Cover Art by Matt Mahurin | Arthur A. Levine Books—Scholastic
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Once upon a time, six brothers were turned into swans. And once upon a time, the spell was broken, giving back to each brother his human form...all except for Ardwin, the youngest. He was left with one arm enchanted, forever a wing.
And so he grows up, marked by difference, a prince struggling to find a place in his father’s kingdom while his wing pulls him toward the open sky. Ardwin barely knows how to speak to his family, yet his wing gives him the power to understand every other creature in the forest.
Half the time Ardwin wishes his wing were gone. Yet when he learns that his father plans to have the wing severed, he knows he must flee...to save his life and to find his way.
Birdwing is the story of a boy who falls, half-healed, out of myth and into the world. Can a young man like that find peace? Or will his very existence become grounds for war?
In this mythic and heroic novel, a young man with a left wing instead of an arm must find his own, unique place in life. How did he get the wing? Magic! Why the left side? That is the side of intuition and the heart.
The old Grimm’s Brothers’ tale of “The Six Swans” ends like this:
The six shirts were ready, only the left sleeve of the sixth was wanting. “. . . The swans swept toward her and sank down so that she could throw the shirts over them, and as they were touched by them, their swans’ skins fell off, and her brothers stood in their own bodily form before her, and were vigorous and handsome. The youngest only lacked his left arm, and had in the place of it a swan’s wing on his shoulder.” (from “The Six Swans,” The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales)
Birdwing begins there, where the old tale ends. What happens to that boy? What is his destiny? What kind of young man will he become? How will he find his place on this earth and be happy, when all who see him think him a cripple or worse, a freak? His story has been waiting perhaps a thousand years to be told. Now at last we will know what happens in the ever after.
Afterwords Edition includes an author interview, the entire Grimm’s Brothers’ tale The Goose Girl, retold by Rafe Martin, and more extras!