Review of The Language of Seabirds

The Language of Seabirds
by Will Taylor
Intermediate, Middle School    Scholastic    256 pp.    g
7/22    978-1-338-75373-8    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-338-75375-2    $10.99

When he turned twelve, Jeremy Ryden wondered if it was time to tell his parents that “when it came to love and romance, his feelings were aimed at other guys.” He kept quiet when he received Uncle Becker’s embarrassing birthday card featuring a female lifeguard on a tropical beach, which elicited a whistle, laugh, and a slap on the back from his father. Now, six months later, on a two-week beach vacation, in a house perched “on the edge of the world,” Jeremy feels the “shimmering feeling of ­possibility.” And sure enough, he meets Evan. Their relationship begins in text messages, where every punctuation mark and nuance seem to matter, and leads to running on the beach, talking about birds (and even creating a coded language of seabirds), and holding hands—the beginning of a tentative and gentle romantic relationship. Taylor’s straightforward narrative uses messaging and dialogue to great effect, and the limited-omniscient point of view allows readers to know what Jeremy is thinking all along the way. A warm-hearted story that affirms and celebrates a tender relationship between two boys. Back matter includes a glossary, a note about the birds, and an author’s note.

From the September/October 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Dean Schneider

Dean Schneider teaches eighth grade English at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee.

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