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by Frederick Lipp

illustrated by Ronald Himler


School Library Journal:

K-Gr 3– Although she has spent all of her life in Phnom Penh, eight-year-old Ary has heard stories about the green countryside where rice grows and where birds fly free. She dreams about escaping from the polluted city where she and her family live in poverty. One morning, she takes the money that she has earned by selling flowers and goes to the marketplace, intending to buy a bird from the bird lady’s cage. According to custom, if the bird flies free, her wish will come true. She chooses one, holds it tight while she makes a wish for her family, and then releases it. The girl is bitterly disappointed when it circles overhead and then returns to perch on the woman’s finger. Feeling as though she has been tricked, Ary consults her grandfather, who tells her that it is important not to pick just any bird when making wishes. She saves more money and watches the bird lady carefully. One day, she sees the woman putting a new bird in the cage. Ary picks this bird and watches it fly out of sight, knowing that some day her dreams will come true. The outstanding watercolor-and-gouache illustrations capture many different kinds of light, such as the yellow light of the country, the gray light of the streets, and the dark of the family’s home. Text and art work well together, providing an excellent window into another culture.–Anne Parker, Milton Public Library, MA –Anne Parker (Reviewed May 1, 2001) (School Library Journal, vol 47, issue 5, p128)


  • Amelia Bloomer Lists – Beginning Readers Fiction: 2002
  • Parents’ Choice Awards – Picture Books: 2001


1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, Ages 0-8, Animals, Family, Kindergarten