Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 14 to 18
- Grade: 9 to 12
In the opening pages of this historical novel, sixteen-year-old Kate Harding is desperately trying to assist her mother who is about to give premature birth to a child in their home in the small colonial community of Victoria in 1861.The experience is gruelling for mother and daughter, and in the end, though a local midwife gets there in time to assist, the baby does not live more than a few hours. It's ironic because Kate's father is one of only a few doctors in the colony, but was out tending patients while his wife was going through this tragic ordeal.
Though Wild Bird is set 160 years ago, it has a lot to say to the readers of today. First of all, in its spotlight on a young girl's yearning to involve herself in meaningful work in a society that thinks women are little more than decoration, and household managers. Secondly, in the description of the way in which Indigenous people relate to the recently arrived settlers who are quick to turn on them when it suits. Finally, the story includes some historical figures who made a significant impact on the early history of Canada, portrayed in dynamic ways.
About the author
Leanne Baugh has been a waitress, receptionist, teacher, stay-at-home mom and a screenwriter. A few years ago she fell in love with writing fiction, and now is finishing her third Young Adult novel. Leanne is passionate about books, films, beach walks and hummingbirds. When she isn't at home in Victoria, B.C., she's off travelling the world.
"The author does an excellent job of painting a picture of what life was like in pre-confederation Canada and particularly of the perils and hardships that the settlers faced, including a smallpox outbreak that not only devastates the Native people but nearly takes a member of Kate's own family. Baugh also illustrates the power that men such as O'Brien held over women and the limited choices that women such as Kate had. . . Overall, Wild Bird is an interesting and informative work of historical fiction, and one that will complement studies of Canadian history in elementary and early secondary classrooms.
"This book (is) very pertinent to today's world in view of the recent discoveries at Residential Native Schools throughout the province and shows how bigotry and racism in the Colony first began.
"Both the vibrant, eye-catching cover and the delightful sketch of a map of Victoria in 1861 are definitely worthy of praise. And Baugh's additional "Historical Note" at the end of the book effectively explains life in colonial days.
"Leanne Baugh's Wild Bird makes for an enjoyable and easy read while at the same time teaching young readers about the hardships that existed at that time. I think there could be a demand for a sequel to Wild Bird."
"A vivid, scalpel-sharp read from the first sentence. The stakes spiral tautly higher as brilliant Kate's sense of duty is infiltrated by a thrilling 'jolt of possibility'."
Ted Stauton, author of over 60 children's and young adult books