Heidi W. DurrowHeidi W. Durrow

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Countdown to Publication: Fun Fact 25-Peterson Field Guide to Birds

I mentioned a few posts back the real books that are mentioned in The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, but I forgot a crucially important one: The Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America. It is a "bible" to the character Jamie. Here's a short excerpt about it:

Jamie thought Robbie was a bird flying down below his window. He had been waiting for this bird and ran downstairs without calling to his mother: “Going outside” which is what his mother had told him to say even if she didn’t hear him above the din of the television that played loudly in her room.
Jamie knew that his mother was not watching television. She had a new friend in there. Jamie knew the television as something that made sounds to keep the sound out. He was okay with that. The bird he had waited for had come. Of course, it didn’t have to be this one, but it was. There were any number of hundreds of birds that didn’t belong in the Chicago sky.

There were two windows in his apartment.  One faced the alley and the other the courtyard. Jamie never watched out the alley window. The bird-things that he’d see fly by were never birds, but garbage bags hurled out the window from higher floors. They sometimes struck the air-conditioning units below. Whump. Sometimes catching there, and rotting hot during the summer months.

Jamie who was really James was named after his father but not named Junior because he was really the third. Jamie wanted a strong name, like Steve or Brick. He had been Jamie since he was born even though there was no way to confuse him with his father, James, a man he had only met in dreams. Jamie wanted a name with a different history.

Jamie who was really James ran downstairs to find the bird, to identify it, to see it. He would remember what he saw; he would write it down; he would record the date on his life list, the name of another bird.

In his hands, Jamie held a book. It was the only gift he had ever asked for, but the book was not a gift. His birthday, July 23, came and went with no celebration and no cake and no gift book.

Jamie got the book from the library. When the metal detector went off, he laid on the table a pocket knife he had found in the pants draped across the bathtub, the pants of his mother’s new friend of two weeks ago.

“Young man,” the stout lady library security guard said, “you know you ain’t supposed to be carrying this kinda thing around.”

Jamie who was really James nodded. “I’m gonna keep this here until you come back round with your mama and she says it’s okay for you to have it.” His plan worked. He left behind the pocket knife, and left with the Peterson Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern and Central North America.


another one of my favorite portion of your book, so much said in so few words, right on target, wow

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