The Boy, The Bird, and The Coffin Maker by Matilda Woods

Author: Matilda Woods
Genre: Children’s Fantasy Fiction
Pages: Print 189
Release Date: May 4, 2018
Rating: ★★★★.5

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Penguin Young Readers partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copy used in this review is an uncorrected copy from the publisher, some quotes may have been changed prior to publishing.


Friendship and magical realism sparkle on the page in this heartwarming, delightfully eccentric illustrated middle-grade gem from an extraordinary new literary voice. Perfect for fans of A Snicker of Magic and The Penderwicks.

Alberto lives alone in the town of Allora, where fish fly out of the sea and the houses shine like jewels. He is a coffin maker and widower, spending his quiet days creating the final resting places of Allora’s people.

Then one afternoon a magical bird flutters into his garden, and Alberto, lonely inside, welcomes it into his home. And when a kindhearted boy named Tito follows the bird into Alberto’s kitchen, a door in the old man’s heart cracks open. Tito is lonely too–but he’s also scared and searching for a place to hide. Fleeing from danger, he just wants to feel safe for once in his life. Can the boy and the old man learn the power of friendship and escape the shadows of their pasts?

With a tender bond that calls to mind The Girl Who Drank the Moon, charming characters reminiscent of The Penderwicks, and the whimsy of A Snicker of Magic, this is a novel to curl up with, an extraordinary work of magical realism that makes the world feel like a warmer and happier place. Complete with dazzling interior illustrations, a gem from start to finish.

Author Bio:

Matilda Woods ( grew up in the small town of Southern Tablelands, Australia. She graduated from Monash University with a Masters of Social Work. Matilda splits her time between writing middle grade fiction and working as a youth social worker. The Boy, the Bird, and the Coffin Maker is her debut novel. She currently lives in the same small town where she grew up, with her four chickens, three dogs, two cats and one bird.

Final Thoughts:

This entrancing middle grade read follows the life of a boy, a bird, and a coffin maker. Alberto has been making coffins since the death of his family. Allora, once a thriving town, is merely a place of silence. Sickness has taken over many lives and in the wake of death, silence is imminent. Alberto continues to make coffins in hopes of giving back to the dead. One night, Miss Bonito is brought in. She was found in her home in a still warm bed. As the weeks follow after her funeral Alberto starts noticing food items missing. Who is the their in his home? Did Miss Bonito really die alone?

Overall, this was such a great book. I loved the interaction between characters and the turmoil between the thief and Alberto. I would have liked for more of a backstory on Miss Bonito and more explanation about Mister Bonito. The author did a great job portraying the challenges of diseases during a time where there was no cure. I assumed the story was written in a time before medicines were popular. It was a bit harder to tell the setting and time frame of this novel. The text had me wanting more. I would recommend this book to any middle grader looking for a good read pertaining to families, friendships, and unlikely relationships with animals. Birds are free, are you?

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