Reviews for Aviary

Booklist Reviews 2011 October #1
Five birds live in the old iron cage at the back of the Glendoveer rose garden, and 12-year-old Clara has never felt friendly toward them until she befriends the smallest one and learns to communicate with it. As a result, she comes to believe there is more than a passing chance that they aren't really birds at all and are somehow connected to the supposedly drowned Glendoveer children. O'Dell has crafted a terrific story with just the right degree of horror for upper-middle-school children. The plot is well matched to the early-twentieth-century setting (the early film The Great Train Robbery is mentioned at one point) to help distance readers from the macabre events while adding an atmospheric flavor perfectly suited to adventures involving gloomy mansions and mysterious children. Although it lacks the same degree of dry humor, try this with graduates of Lemony Snicket or even Roald Dahl. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
Clara tries to avoid the aviary beside the spooky old mansion where she lives with her housekeeper mother. When she realizes one of the birds is talking to her, Clara starts asking questions. With its early-twentieth-century setting, this story contains locked doors, a magician, and a neat supernatural twist. Clara's character is well developed and interesting as we watch her growing independence. Copyright 2012 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #6
Cautioned against exerting her weak heart, Clara has always been kept inside at the spooky old mansion where her mother works as housekeeper. She tries to avoid going near the aviary beside the house because the raucous birds frighten her, but then she realizes one of them is talking to her, saying, "Elliot!" The mansion's owner, old Mrs. Glendoveer, tells her that Elliot was the name of her baby son. Clara finally meets another eleven-year-old girl, Daphne, and as her world begins to expand, Clara starts asking questions about the old house and the Glendoveer family, whose children, including Elliot, all disappeared. With its early-twentieth-century setting, this story contains locked doors, letters from the past, a magician and a hypnotist, and a neat supernatural twist. Although Daphne is little more than a stock sidekick who helps move the plot along, Clara's character is well developed and interesting as she becomes more independent. Mary Downing Hahn fans looking for a slightly creepy, old-fashioned mystery will eat this up. susan dove lempke Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 September #1

In the early years of the 20th century, a 40-year-old mystery in a dead magician's crumbling mansion magically changes Clara Dooley's life forever.

Eleven years old and barely allowed out of the house due to her "weak heart," Clara and her mother live with ancient Mrs. Glendoveer. Mother nurses the widow and keeps the mansion in mostly working order with the help of cook Ruby. All of them tend the magician's five surviving birds, of various species, that live in the backyard aviary. When Clara hears the mynah shout "Elliott," she asks Mrs. Glendoveer who that might be, only to find it's the name of Mrs. Glendoveer's baby, who went missing decades before. When Mrs. Glendoveer dies shortly thereafter, Clara discovers that five other children vanished with Elliott; despite the impropriety, Clara begins to investigate with the help of Daphne, her new (and secret) friend from town. O'Dell jumps genres to great effect in this spooky, fantasy/mystery (Agnes Parker... Keeping Cool in Middle School, 2007, etc.). She evokes the period so well that (older) readers might suspect they're reading a lost collaboration between E. Nesbit and Agatha Christie. O'Dell reveals the mystery and magic incrementally, even as Clara simultaneously discovers her autonomy. Readers seeking instant gratification might not stick it out, but they'll be cheated out of an action-packed, page-turning finale. 

An absorbing mix of talking birds, ghostly messages, kidnapped children, magic spells and tragic family secrets. (Historical fantasy. 9-12) 


Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 August #2

It's been a few years since readers have heard from O'Dell, apparently because she's been getting her Frances Hodgson Burnett on. This Gilded Age departure from O'Dell's contemporary fare depicts Clara Dooley, an 11-year-old invalid whose mother keeps the fabulous, mysterious house of a magician's widow, Mrs. Glendoveer. The kindly widow has secrets, not least of which is her love for five terrifying birds that live in an iron cage in the garden, but she dies before Clara can discover more than that she had a baby who disappeared. Clara, lonely and rebellious, struggles to make contact with a neighbor, Daphne, despite her mother's prohibitions. Daphne relays more gossip about the Glendoveers, but it's not until Daphne's kitten gets inside the aviary that Clara begins unraveling the truth. Nursing the injured honeycreeper, Clara believes the bird responds by "talking." Can it be? The honeycreeper's encouragement leads to discovery after discovery in a well-paced, high-tension mystery that draws not only on Burnett, but also C.S. Lewis, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, and Neil Gaiman, joining a rich heritage of stories about children with a secret "room of their own." Ages 8-12. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 November

Gr 4-6--A crumbling seaside mansion is the only home 11-year-old Clara has ever known. Forbidden a normal childhood because of a weak heart, she lives her days in isolation, her only company being her housekeeper mother, Ruby the cook, and elderly Mrs. Glendoveer. There are the aviary birds, but Clara fears their piercing screeches. One stormy day a mynah screams the name: Elliot. A single inquiry leads Clara to a terrible story involving the kidnapping and drowning of the five oldest Glendoveer children and the disappearance of baby Elliot. The children's father, a famous magician, was blamed for the tragedy. Fueled by curiosity and the promise of friendship with a new girl, Clara digs deeper. The girls learn that the aviary birds are key to what really happened that fateful day and devise a plan to bring the real kidnapper to justice, find Elliot, and free the trapped souls of the Glendoveer children. In solving the mystery, Clara learns of her own connection to the Glendoveer family. O'Dell weaves a tapestry of hauntingly gorgeous imagery with this atmospheric tale of suspense, magic, and adventure. Readers will be captivated from the first page on.--Alissa J. LeMerise, Oxford Public Library, MI

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