The club’s fourth book is “Swordbird” written by Nancy Yi Fan when she was 12 years old. Fan was born in China in 1993. When she was seven years old, she moved with her parents to the U.S. A passion for birds was part of her inspiration to write “Swordbird.” After September 11, she was struggling with her feelings about terrorism and strife. Then one night, she had a vivid dream about birds at war. She decided to write “Swordbird” as a way to convey her message of peace and freedom. The book is illustrated by Mark Zug.In this excerpt the cardinals and blue jays are celebrating the Bright Moon Festival with their friends of the Willowleaf Theatre. A band of crows and ravens from Turnatt’s army has just launched a surprise attack upon them, but Turnatt’s soldiers themselves are about to be surprised. Here’s the excerpt:
Noise and confusion broke out in the crowd. Some tried to escape; others turned to fight the intruders. A few decided neither to fight nor to run away but to do tricks; those were the birds of the Willowleaf Theater. At the time Dilby was still backstage, preparing for his next act, juggling with lighted torches. The loon measured distances with a careful eye and threw his torches toward thick mobs of crows and ravens. He chuckled when he heard the screams and yells.
When the arrows started to rain down, Lorpil, of course, was attacking several pies at the food table. Instantly an idea popped into his head.
“Pie their smelly faces!” he cried to the birds nearby.
“Pie them!” Lorpil threw a large raspberry pie with all his might at one of the ravens. The pastry hit the soldier’s face with a juicy squish, spattering gooey jam all over him and several nearby soldiers. Alexandra found spoons on one of the tables. She quickly taught nine birds how to sling nuts at the enemies. The soldiers howled and squawked in surprise as the nuts hit them.”
Kastin and Mayflower glanced at a gigantic container of hot soup and slowly exchanged mischievous glances. They had an idea, too.
“Here’s a way to help the cardinals and the blue jays, eh, Kassie?”
“Fine by me, May. Let’s tip that bean soup!”
The junco and the titmouse rushed to the steaming pot. They each grasped a handle and flew up, straining to lift the heavy container to a branch of a nearby tree. When a crowd of crows and ravens flew underneath, they tipped the hot liquid on the unsuspecting black birds. Now covered in the sticky bean soup, they plummeted and crashed to the ground.
Excerpted from “Swordbird” by Nancy Yi Fan. Copyright © 2007 Nancy Yi Fan. All rights reserved. Published by HarperCollins. No part of this excerpt can be used without permission of the publisher.