The Ever-After Bird by Ann Rinaldi.
Harcourt, Inc: NY, 2007.

When CeCe's father dies, she joins her uncle Alex's household, traveling to Georgia with him and his assistant in pursuit of the scarlet ibis. The three visit plantation after plantation in search of the bird, and each place shows a different aspect of slavery in the pre-Civil War South. Uncle Alex is a physician and famous ornithologist, but he is also secretly circulating among the slaves and giving them aid, money, and information for following the Underground Railroad. To maintain their ruse, the black assistant, Earline, must pretend she is their slave traveling as CeCe's maid, a role most difficult for her.

CeCe's character is, I think, the strongest part of the book. She goes from being angry about her father's abolitionist behavior and ignorant of what slavery entails to shocked by circumstances on the plantations and finding some meaning for her own life. From not caring about the fugitives to putting her own body in harm's way to save someone else.

Uncle Alex's character is based on a Canadian physician and ornithologist, Dr. Alexander Ross, who did travel to plantations and circulate information for the Underground Railroad as in the book. I like the way Rinaldi uses a historical character or piece of an event as a starting point, and then creates her own protagonist to build a story. She uses real events in many places, and she has done this with several books. She does an excellent job of bringing historical times to life.

related-scarlet ibis, birds, slavery, Underground Railroad, Georgia, uncles, family, plantations, child abuse

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