When Flannery O’Connor was a little girl, she came to the considered conclusion that there is something about strangeness that makes people ‘sit up and look.’ Just as well really, as this eccentric child grew up to write singularly unsettling stories that made the entire literary world sit up and propelled her to an enduring fame.The Strange Birds of Flannery O’Connor by Amy Alznauer explores the life and childhood fascinations of the late American writer. A radiant and wonderful portrait, it will captivate free-spirited young readers.
Young Flannery was simultaneously shy and fierce. Her intense nature manifested itself in what can only be described as a fixation on the world of birds, a passion that was to last her whole life through and forms the quirky heart of this colourful picture biography. Initially she began keeping ducks and chickens, even sewing them little coats and collars, her desire to find the strangest specimens inspiring her emerging writing, as she sought to convey the hidden strangeness she found in everyday life.
After graduating from university, Flannery’s writing career began to flourish, only to be thwarted at the age of twenty-five by a heartbreaking medical diagnosis. A quiet life of infirmity on the family homestead awaited, sedate but certainly not drab, as Flannery discovered the attraction of peacocks, with their tails like ‘a thousand haloed suns.’ She proceeded to fill the grounds of her home with the beautiful birds, creating a local attraction in the process.
‘And every morning she sat at her typewriter thinking out stories as strange and dazzling as a tail full of suns.’
The trials and tribulations of Flannery’s life are made clear to adult readers, but for children, Alznauer offers a celebration of unfettered imagination and permission to be decidedly odd. Ping Zhu’s vivid and intuitive illustrations perfectly complement this unique and revelatory biography and top marks too for Enchanted Lion Books, champions of gloriously unusual books designed to spark curiosity and wonder.
The Strange Birds of Flannery O’Connor by Amy Alznauer, illustrations by & Ping Zhou, is published by Enchanted Lion Books, 54 pages.