It’s only natural to have silence and secrets in your family when you’re born on the same day that your brother died. At least, that’s sure what it seems like for twelve-year old Jewel. Add to that the fact that you’re the only mixed-race family in your rural Iowan town, and well, life can get kind of lonely sometimes. 

But when a boy named John moves into her town, his courage and charisma immediately stand out and the two kids instantly click. John’s presence, however, has an unsettling effect on her family. As the thick layers of silence in her family begin to unravel, Jewel finds that her life is not as stable nor her family’s expectations as certain as she once thought. Suddenly, Jewel needs to choose whether to stay loyal to the person her family wants her to be or to claim her own identity, no matter the cost.

Read the first chapter (pdf)

How did Crystal get the idea for BIRD, a book about duppies and Xolo dogs? Find out here:


Bird is read by Amandla Stenberg, who played Rue in The Hunger Games!

Listen to Amandla’s reading of the first chapter below.


Contact Women and Children’s First, a bookstore in Chicago.


“Crystal Chan has written an enthralling first novel about the darkness, light, and beauty that make up the human condition.” – Cynthia Kadohata, author of Newbery-winner KIRA KIRA

“BIRD is a mysterious, lyrical, and thought-provoking novel from an important new voice in children’s literature.” – Kathi Appelt, author of The Underneath, Newbery Honor and National Book Award Finalist

“A Bird flies, a grandpa stop speaking; secrets and spirits weave through a wondrous story. An exciting debut novel.” – Jamila Gavin, author of the Whitbread Award-winner CORAM BOY

“Thoughtful and introspective about the dynamics of a grieving family… contemplative readers will be rewarded by Jewel’s journey.” – Booklist

“Jewel is a multilayered, emotional character… the mixture of superstition and science creates a wonderful juxtaposition in this powerful story about loss and moving on.” – School Library Journal

“The voice of 12-year-old Jewel carries readers through this lyrical and buoyant debut from Crystal Chan… Chan’s strong characterizations and her way with words make her a writer to watch.” – Shelf Awareness

How did Crystal get the idea for BIRD, a book about duppies and Xolo dogs? Find out here: