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Gregory has to leave the Navajo reservation for the big city of Tucson.

AWARDS
Selected by the Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College of Education as one of the 2008 Best Books of the Year in the "Nine to Twelve: Growing Up" category

A selection for the 2010 California Collections for Elementary Schools

REVIEWS

“Marsden packs a lot into a small package. The novel’s short length, engaging male protagonist, and theme of the tension between fitting in to a new group while remaining true to oneself all combine to make this an appealing selection for reluctant readers.” School Library Journal

"Marsden returns to her frequent topic of kids outside of the mainstream, and while Gregory's story is largely the familiar fish-out-of-water tale, it is presented here with eloquence and emotional strength. Gregory's development is believable as he comes to terms with his mixed feelings about his father, whom he misses desperately and yet remembers as an abusive figure. The imaginary-friend theme, atypical for a book at this age level, really works here, and the moment at which Gregory is able to let Joey go is a powerful one; that loss is counterbalanced by gain as Matt turns out to be not so much questionable as hardened by the circumstances in his own life, and the two boys come to count on each other. The ending is realistically hopeful rather than happy, a limitation that readers will understand even as they sympathize with Gregory's struggle to move forward.” Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“Inspired by two students in Marsden's fourth-grade classroom, this spare, short novel is a heartfelt story of dislocation and hardship.” Booklist

“The drought back home becomes something of a metaphor for all the "thirsty places" in a fatherless, homeless boy's heart, yet Marsden's crisp, down-to-earth tone keeps the saga of Gregory's gradual adjustment firmly this side of sentimental.”
Horn Book Magazine

”Bird Springs is a sensitive portrayal of a family on the edge -- an experience sure to be shared by many in its potential audience.”
The Washington Post Book World


“Marsden packs a lot into a small package. The novel’s short length, engaging male protagonist, and theme of the tension between fitting in to a new group while remaining true to oneself all combine to make this an appealing selection for reluctant readers.” School Library Journal

“Marsden's affecting novel centers on 11-year-old Gregory, an earnest Navajo boy who relocates with his mother and baby sister from the Bird Springs reservation to a Tucson motel. ..In the novel's final scene, at once wistful and hopeful, the boy decides it is time for a long-overdue haircut and, acknowledging that his father will not return, opts for only a trim in order to keep his hair long-like Dad's-as he spots auspicious rain clouds in the distance.” Publishers Weekly


HOW I GOT THE IDEA
When I worked as a third grade teacher in Tucson, Arizona, one of my students was a Navajo boy who'd moved down from the reservation. As in BIRD SPRINGS, the boy made friends with a white boy. Their friendship was very rocky! But conflict makes for good fiction, so I kept my pen and paper handy. (PS I am not the teacher in the story!)