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The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker

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Alberto lives alone in the town of Allora where fish fly out of the sea and everyone knows everybody's business. There he makes coffins for the great and small, but being the only coffin maker in town can be lonely. That is until a little boy and a magical bird enter his life and change it forever. Alberto lives alone in the town of Allora where fish fly out of the sea and everyone knows everybody's business. There he makes coffins for the great and small, but being the only coffin maker in town can be lonely. That is until a little boy and a magical bird enter his life and change it forever.


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Alberto lives alone in the town of Allora where fish fly out of the sea and everyone knows everybody's business. There he makes coffins for the great and small, but being the only coffin maker in town can be lonely. That is until a little boy and a magical bird enter his life and change it forever. Alberto lives alone in the town of Allora where fish fly out of the sea and everyone knows everybody's business. There he makes coffins for the great and small, but being the only coffin maker in town can be lonely. That is until a little boy and a magical bird enter his life and change it forever.

30 review for The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker

  1. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Greendale

    Tito and his bird, Fia, seek refuge in the coastal town of Allora. Desperate for a meal, Tito sneaks into the kitchen of a widowed coffin maker and is caught helping himself to a bowl of porridge. From this chance encounter, a friendship blooms, a friendship that will be tested as winter blankets the village in snow and danger – in the form of a dark figure determined to find Tito – draws nearer. The Boy, the Bird & the Coffin Maker is a dreary tale, replete with a plague epidemic that nearly wi Tito and his bird, Fia, seek refuge in the coastal town of Allora. Desperate for a meal, Tito sneaks into the kitchen of a widowed coffin maker and is caught helping himself to a bowl of porridge. From this chance encounter, a friendship blooms, a friendship that will be tested as winter blankets the village in snow and danger – in the form of a dark figure determined to find Tito – draws nearer. The Boy, the Bird & the Coffin Maker is a dreary tale, replete with a plague epidemic that nearly wipes out an entire village, a man consumed by thoughts of death, and a lonely boy starving in the cold. A more suitable title would be The Coffin Maker, the Bird & the Boy, for that is the order in which the characters are prevalent. The book opens with significant backstory and exposition on the coffin maker before jumping ahead thirty years. At the end of the second chapter, the book lurches forward again – by one year. The story finally begins in chapter three, focusing once more on the coffin maker, Alberto Cavello, who is arguably the central protagonist. Magical realism plays a small part in the narrative, particularly where the bird is concerned. Fia is a colorful creature whose feathers are prone to changing color like a mood ring. When the boy first found her, two months before, she had been black all over. But now sometimes, when the sun shone on her wings or when she ate a particularly tasty treat, her feathers would flash gold or silver or green in the light. Today they were flashing all three. She must have been very happy. The charm of The Boy, the Bird & the Coffin Maker lies in Woods’ vision of Allora – a town of winding streets with “bright houses” comprised of so many colors “that the artists did not have enough pigments to paint them.” An overweight, tyrannical mayor rules the village and a duo of gossiping sisters spread lies. An abundance of pastry shops offer delectable treats, and when winter arrives, it’s a sight to behold. Storms built over the sea, and the instant they reached land the rain turned to snow. The gray cobbles that wound up Allora Hill turned white, and the fish jumped even higher to escape the icy sea. The snow fell so steadily that the tombstones at the top of the hill had a white glaze, like a dusting of sugar on one of Enzo’s baked sweets. Despite its charming portrayal of friendship and family, it’s unlikely The Boy, the Bird & the Coffin Maker will appeal to young readers because of its melancholy undertones and focus on adult problems. - Special thanks to Philomel Books for providing a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Miss Cleveland

    Alberto is Allora’s coffin maker, living alone following the plague that swept through the town 30 years ago with the same relentless ferocity that now sees fish fly out of the sea. He notices food disappearing from his kitchen, and soon begins leaving food for the scrap thin boy he nearly caught. When Tito and Alberto finally meet, it is the beginning of an adventure for them both. A beautifully told, magical tale of finding hope after grief, friendship after loneliness, and escaping the past. W Alberto is Allora’s coffin maker, living alone following the plague that swept through the town 30 years ago with the same relentless ferocity that now sees fish fly out of the sea. He notices food disappearing from his kitchen, and soon begins leaving food for the scrap thin boy he nearly caught. When Tito and Alberto finally meet, it is the beginning of an adventure for them both. A beautifully told, magical tale of finding hope after grief, friendship after loneliness, and escaping the past. With characters bursting with life in a town that begs your mind to explore it's a book that makes the world seem like a better place. I can't wait to get my hands on a proper copy complete with full page illustrations; if Anuska Allepuz’s page edgings and cover are anything to go by, they will be stunning! Many thanks to Toppsta and Scholastic UK for the stunning proof copy, printed in blue ink - my dyslexic brain has never been so happy!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sydney S

    “Don’t be frightened. The dead cannot hurt us; only the living can do that.” A dark and sad tone for a middle grade book, but also very sweet. It’s one of those stories that slowly shifts to the heartwarming tone, even if it never quite loses the darkness. Beautifully written with equally beautiful and simple illustrations every 20 or so pages. Each page is also framed by small little floral drawings. This book is so atmospheric, and I usually don’t care about that, but I loved it here. I really “Don’t be frightened. The dead cannot hurt us; only the living can do that.” A dark and sad tone for a middle grade book, but also very sweet. It’s one of those stories that slowly shifts to the heartwarming tone, even if it never quite loses the darkness. Beautifully written with equally beautiful and simple illustrations every 20 or so pages. Each page is also framed by small little floral drawings. This book is so atmospheric, and I usually don’t care about that, but I loved it here. I really enjoyed this book. As the title suggests, there’s a lot of death in this little book. There’s also a lot of life too though. Alberto is a simple, good man who has suffered severely, and yet he persists and stays positive, treating people (both living and dead) with kindness. The boy in this story has suffered similarly, and I might argue more so. I don’t want to say too much more about the story itself because it’s a pretty short one at 190 pages, and I want everyone to experience it as I did, going into it knowing very little. I had low expectations, but I think even if they were high, I would still have loved this book. There were quite a few times when I got the sad/happy chills, if you know what I mean by that, or even felt myself tearing up a bit. I was emotionally invested. I loved a few characters so much that I didn’t stop reading until I’d finished the book, and I also hated a few characters passionately. I definitely did not expect to find such a little gem of a book on accident. I’ve been searching for comfort reads lately and this was just what I needed.

  4. 4 out of 5

    stefiereads

    5/5 stars This book touched my heart at the very start. This book it’s like a reminder to me to be brave, to cherish moments with people that we love. It’s so wonderfully heartwarming, light, calming and really just beautiful. It full of hope and love! Plus, the boy, Tito has a bird as his pet!! I love birds. So, plus plus plus plus for this! 😬 I would love to read more books from Matilda Woods ♥️

  5. 5 out of 5

    Luna

    The only regret I have about reading a proof copy instead of a finished version of this book is that ever so often there was a page that said: ‘illustration to come’. If these are just a fraction as wonderful as the writing then The Boy, The Bird and The Coffin Maker is going to be one of the loveliest books I’ve read this year. The story is magical, it starts with the setting. Not just the flying fish, but how the whole town is described, the residents and the first chapter that tells you the hi The only regret I have about reading a proof copy instead of a finished version of this book is that ever so often there was a page that said: ‘illustration to come’. If these are just a fraction as wonderful as the writing then The Boy, The Bird and The Coffin Maker is going to be one of the loveliest books I’ve read this year. The story is magical, it starts with the setting. Not just the flying fish, but how the whole town is described, the residents and the first chapter that tells you the history of the Coffin Maker. Then we have Tito (the boy), a magical bird, danger and another tale beautifully woven within theirs. I am very much in love with Matilda Woods writing in this book. It was just perfect. Like a warm blanket of words that wraps around you as you walk through Allora. I knew within the first few sentences that this book was going to be brilliant. I think other readers will as well. The Boy, The Bird and The Coffin Maker wasn’t on my radar for this year and I am so glad I took a chance on this because I seriously loved it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Pauline

    This is one of those magical junior fiction stories that immediately places you in a distinct time and setting. Allora is a town famous for its fish that fall from the sky, its colourful streets, unusual birds and fascinating and gossiping residents. The story begins with Alberto, Allora’s coffin maker who having lost his wife and children has lived alone since a plague swept through his town over 30 years ago. He bides his time by making beautiful unique coffins but he is lonely and increasingl This is one of those magical junior fiction stories that immediately places you in a distinct time and setting. Allora is a town famous for its fish that fall from the sky, its colourful streets, unusual birds and fascinating and gossiping residents. The story begins with Alberto, Allora’s coffin maker who having lost his wife and children has lived alone since a plague swept through his town over 30 years ago. He bides his time by making beautiful unique coffins but he is lonely and increasingly grumpy. When he meets a magical bird and the frightened boy Tito, his lonely life acquires new meaning. Although this is a book that deals with death, grief and endings it is a gentle and hopeful tale that reveals new beginnings, new friendships and is beautifully illustrated. The writing is lyrical and evocative of fantasy and fable and sensitive readers who like stories with heart will love this novel. Suitable for 9+ - death, coffins, suggested mistreatment of children

  7. 4 out of 5

    Les McFarlane

    Really enjoyed this story. It seemed to have a flavour of some other story I know. The story of Alberto - the coffin maker, Tito- the boy & Fia -the bird, moves along at quite a pace. It's sweet not saccharine and has a fairytale ending. The supporting characters are sketched well enough to make them feel like people you might know! I loved the cyan print ( made it very easy to read) and the simple illustrations are a lovely accompaniment. Really enjoyed this story. It seemed to have a flavour of some other story I know. The story of Alberto - the coffin maker, Tito- the boy & Fia -the bird, moves along at quite a pace. It's sweet not saccharine and has a fairytale ending. The supporting characters are sketched well enough to make them feel like people you might know! I loved the cyan print ( made it very easy to read) and the simple illustrations are a lovely accompaniment.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dee Dee G

    This was sad and magical at the same time with a good outcome.

  9. 4 out of 5

    KWinks

    This was cute and charming and I should have loved it, but I didn't. I think it's because it was trying to be too many things at once. It's a story about family, and what family means. It's a story about a village, it's a story within a story about a magical place...it goes a bit Pan's Labyrinth there for awhile. It was just too much. It's not a bad read, at all, it's just scattered. Side note (and this does not affect the review at all): I can't stand book titles that are lists. I think The Lion This was cute and charming and I should have loved it, but I didn't. I think it's because it was trying to be too many things at once. It's a story about family, and what family means. It's a story about a village, it's a story within a story about a magical place...it goes a bit Pan's Labyrinth there for awhile. It was just too much. It's not a bad read, at all, it's just scattered. Side note (and this does not affect the review at all): I can't stand book titles that are lists. I think The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe has that covered already and anyone who has every watched a patron struggle to remember the name of a book Angus? Thongs? Big Things? So, I'm not a big fan of lists as titles.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ben Trevail

    This is a beautiful story of family and friendship: Alberto, a coffin-maker, who befriends a young boy, Tito. It's set in an end-of-the-line coastal village where rumours are rife and fish fall from the skies - it's so enchanting and evoked strong resemblances to my favourite Cornish fishing haunts. It's perfect for LKS2 as a class read and Y4 as an independent read. I'm thinking of pairing it with Journey in the future as both books share an evocative magic. This is a beautiful story of family and friendship: Alberto, a coffin-maker, who befriends a young boy, Tito. It's set in an end-of-the-line coastal village where rumours are rife and fish fall from the skies - it's so enchanting and evoked strong resemblances to my favourite Cornish fishing haunts. It's perfect for LKS2 as a class read and Y4 as an independent read. I'm thinking of pairing it with Journey in the future as both books share an evocative magic.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rhianydd Cooke - Cambourne

    I’m struggling to put this as “read” because I actually listened to this as an audio book (first ever), but whatever, it’s 2020 and I don’t care anymore 😂. I loved this little book, despite the awful narrator! It’s a cute little story, if a little predictable.

  12. 5 out of 5

    15kyriacouP

    This is a magical book that takes you on a journey of kindness, friendship and love.It is a story of a man. A man all alone and dad and a boy with his bird all alone and dad. Hen the boy the bird and the coffin maker cross paths their lives as they knew them were about to change forever.

  13. 4 out of 5

    dominique

    Very sad but also inspiring and magical. I loved the characters they felt very special.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Burt

    Well, what a truly magical book! Not only is its cover stunning and its inside illustrations beautiful, the effortless, smooth prose is completely absorbing too. I’m really glad I found this little gem because, it’s a short book to read, and has the rare quality of being an under-the-radar, mystical and dream-like quality of a book that any age of person could read. About Alberto, the stalwart coffin-maker of the intriguing and wondrous hill-town of Allora, his family and his relations with the p Well, what a truly magical book! Not only is its cover stunning and its inside illustrations beautiful, the effortless, smooth prose is completely absorbing too. I’m really glad I found this little gem because, it’s a short book to read, and has the rare quality of being an under-the-radar, mystical and dream-like quality of a book that any age of person could read. About Alberto, the stalwart coffin-maker of the intriguing and wondrous hill-town of Allora, his family and his relations with the people of the small town that live below him, this book is also about how Alberto deals with the new arrival of an orphan called Tito and his colourful bird, Fia, into his steady life. Although most of the book has an innocent quality about it, there is still a (albeit quite gentle) definite threat by the town’s mayor (and his strange desire to have the best coffin made for himself), and an evil man ripping the town apart trying to find his son – Tito. But Tito ran from his father after his mother died, and has been on the run from him ever since. We see Tito’s father only a few times, but in those moments he is truly sinister and we understand why Tito wants to stay with Alberto. The book is even more magical on many levels because it is both a fairy-tale as well as a mini-study on how an old man who has lost his own family takes to helping a young boy find meaning and peace in his shattered life. It takes a rare talent to create such a short, intense burst of a beautiful book and Matilda Woods clearly has this in abundance. I could hardly put this story down, and think it’s one of those books everyone should read. Plus, it should win an award for the best name in any book for years – Tito Bonito. Tito Bonito…! A magical name fitting in with a magical book. Stunning.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dawna

    The real world is too hard and too heavy. That’s why well written middle grade fiction is my reading sweet spot, and sweet this is. Magical realism that reads almost like a fairy tale, this emotional story about a young boy and his unlikely protector is a treasure. We need more books about boys like this, that explore complicated emotions and relationships, rather than relying on humor or action. Not all books about boys need to be in the Captain Underpants vein. Boys need permission to feel, to The real world is too hard and too heavy. That’s why well written middle grade fiction is my reading sweet spot, and sweet this is. Magical realism that reads almost like a fairy tale, this emotional story about a young boy and his unlikely protector is a treasure. We need more books about boys like this, that explore complicated emotions and relationships, rather than relying on humor or action. Not all books about boys need to be in the Captain Underpants vein. Boys need permission to feel, to fear, to grieve, to long, and to hope. Books should be the windows that allow them that.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    4.85 This is such a heartwarming read! I really love this novel — the writing and the setting are so beautiful! I love all of the characters as well! I only wish that there were more illustrations in the book because they're so stunning! Highly recommend if you're looking for a quick read that can warm your heart! 4.85 This is such a heartwarming read! I really love this novel — the writing and the setting are so beautiful! I love all of the characters as well! I only wish that there were more illustrations in the book because they're so stunning! Highly recommend if you're looking for a quick read that can warm your heart!

  17. 4 out of 5

    sara

    4.5 stars! I wanted to say that this is Matilda Woods' debut novel and it is a middle-grade fiction book. I know that I wanted to read something that was less angsty than YA and I knew that middle-grade fiction would be my way to go. Even though, I was not in the target audience for this book, I really enjoyed it a lot and fell in love with the characters and the writing. Matilda Woods did a fantastic job of describing things in a very vivid and picturesque way that made my senses come alive. Eac 4.5 stars! I wanted to say that this is Matilda Woods' debut novel and it is a middle-grade fiction book. I know that I wanted to read something that was less angsty than YA and I knew that middle-grade fiction would be my way to go. Even though, I was not in the target audience for this book, I really enjoyed it a lot and fell in love with the characters and the writing. Matilda Woods did a fantastic job of describing things in a very vivid and picturesque way that made my senses come alive. Each sentence spoke with beauty and I could picture what she was writing about in almost crystal clear detail. I do like how the book was beautiful aesthetically and the drawings were both well-detailed, beautiful, and went well with the story. The cover was the initial reason why I picked up this book, but the story and the characters made me keep reading it until the end. Matilda Woods still dealt with similar themes as in YA- abuse, loss, etc. but in a way that wasn't too much, that didn't leave a bad taste in my mouth, and was perfect for the target audience. I really appreciate Matilda weaving these themes in a way that made sense and still felt sufficient. People will be able to connect with the characters. I know I saw myself in some of the characters. It was way more complex than the title or blurb suggests. This is a book that I could see parents reading to their kids or kids that want to read something a bit different. I wasn't sure about the ending, but I do appreciate it. It did feel a bit abrupt though.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lana Shupe

    This wonderful 190 page young reader novel came to me from Penguin Random House as an Advance Readers Copy. Read it this morning with my early morning coffee. This book reads like a Grimm Brothers fairy tale. Not the Disney Grimm fairy tale version, the real, gripping Grimm fairy tale version. The beginning is sad. The middle is sinister. The end if satisfying. In between all the sadness, the sinister menace and the satisfying ending the reader is given such bursts of hope, love and caring that g This wonderful 190 page young reader novel came to me from Penguin Random House as an Advance Readers Copy. Read it this morning with my early morning coffee. This book reads like a Grimm Brothers fairy tale. Not the Disney Grimm fairy tale version, the real, gripping Grimm fairy tale version. The beginning is sad. The middle is sinister. The end if satisfying. In between all the sadness, the sinister menace and the satisfying ending the reader is given such bursts of hope, love and caring that gives reprieve from all the "Grimm" details. The text was in blue ink in my book and the illustrations were perfectly crafted to carry the story along. The illustrations by Anuska Allepuz enhance the images forming in your mind as you read. I hope the cover I have is the final cover chosen because I really loved it. It was a cover that drew me in for the read. I look forward to release day in May 2018 to see the final cover version on the shelves of the bookstore where I work.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tara Ethridge

    The cover and the beautiful illustrations drew me to this book, but the story itself was so beautiful. It reads almost like a fairy tale, and I loved it. Alberto lives alone in a town on the sea--a sea so rough that fish fly out and right onto the street for the village's dinner each night. His entire family died when sickness came to the town, and he has been alone ever since. His livelihood is being the village coffin maker, and his life changes when a young woman is brought dead to his door f The cover and the beautiful illustrations drew me to this book, but the story itself was so beautiful. It reads almost like a fairy tale, and I loved it. Alberto lives alone in a town on the sea--a sea so rough that fish fly out and right onto the street for the village's dinner each night. His entire family died when sickness came to the town, and he has been alone ever since. His livelihood is being the village coffin maker, and his life changes when a young woman is brought dead to his door for him to make her coffin. Her young son is now alone in the world and finds his way to Alberto's home. The mixture of reality and fantasy in this book was stunning.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Wright

    Another adorable story from Woods! Once again it was a story that starts out so sad and finds its way to a warm and wonderful ending. I love the world building and always wish I could go visit there. This could easily have another book about where they end up and I would get it the moment it came out!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Meekachii

    4.5 out of 5. This was such a cute and heart warming middle grade read. I found myself engrossed in the story and finished it in two sittings. It was a cute tale of a lonely man meeting a lonely boy and the bond they develop and share together. I definitely recommend it for adults and kids alike.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Fny

    I mean I love this little tale so much! It was so imaginative and the writing was flawless. It was a moving story about family, life and death. A little bit sad at times but also so much warmth. This was really great debut from the author. I'm looking forward to read more from Woods. I mean I love this little tale so much! It was so imaginative and the writing was flawless. It was a moving story about family, life and death. A little bit sad at times but also so much warmth. This was really great debut from the author. I'm looking forward to read more from Woods.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sharni

    I bought this on a whim after I noticed the beautiful blue ink drawings that border every page (and quite often we are treated to a full page, blue ink drawing) and it was truely a great decision. This is the story of Alberto, a carpenter/toy maker, whose family died from the plague causing him to become a coffin maker. Long years pass, until the death of Miss Bonito. Unknown to all, Miss Bonito had a son, Tito - and from here, Alberto's life begins to change. If you believe in magic, you will s I bought this on a whim after I noticed the beautiful blue ink drawings that border every page (and quite often we are treated to a full page, blue ink drawing) and it was truely a great decision. This is the story of Alberto, a carpenter/toy maker, whose family died from the plague causing him to become a coffin maker. Long years pass, until the death of Miss Bonito. Unknown to all, Miss Bonito had a son, Tito - and from here, Alberto's life begins to change. If you believe in magic, you will surely find it here.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Farrah

    It was absolutely amazing! This has to be one of my all time favorite books. So much joy was put into reading this.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    a father whose children died years ago finds a boy to love, but can he keep this child from the evil father hunting for him? A moving read for parents; not sure what kids would think.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    Delightful.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sally Andrews

    This was an amazing YA book. I loved it!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nicki

    I read this book in one sitting. I was enthralled by the story and illustrations. What a wonderful book.... I'm not sure whether it is meant for very young children but it is no less magical than the old fairy tales. I read this book in one sitting. I was enthralled by the story and illustrations. What a wonderful book.... I'm not sure whether it is meant for very young children but it is no less magical than the old fairy tales.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anna W.

    I really enjoyed the first 4/5ths of this book. The story, the language, the names... all of it. Fantastical and new, it seemed. The ending itself wasn't what I envisioned and it seemed quite abrupt to me. However, because I so enjoyed the beginning and middle, and I did feel the pull to keep reading, I give it a 4. Worth the read, but not necessarily worth the end. I really enjoyed the first 4/5ths of this book. The story, the language, the names... all of it. Fantastical and new, it seemed. The ending itself wasn't what I envisioned and it seemed quite abrupt to me. However, because I so enjoyed the beginning and middle, and I did feel the pull to keep reading, I give it a 4. Worth the read, but not necessarily worth the end.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Flores

    This is a very special, well written, fairytale-like story. The language is perfect for young readers who enjoy a poetic touch to harsh realities. It carries a healing grace and has some beautiful illustrations throughout.

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