In Venice in 1487, the secrets of glassblowing are guarded jealously. Renzo, a twelve-year-old laborer in a glassworks, has just a few months to prepare for a test of his abilities, and no one to teach him. If he passes, he will qualify as a skilled glassblower. If he fails, he will be expelled from the glassworks. Becoming a glassblower is his murdered father’s dying wish for him, and the means of supporting his mother and sister. But Renzo desperately needs another pair of hands to help him turn the glass as he practices at night.
One night he is disturbed by a bird—a small falcon—that seems to belong to a girl hiding in the glassworks. Soon Renzo learns about her and others like her—the bird people, who can communicate with birds and are condemned as witches. He tries to get her to help him and discovers that she comes with baggage: ten hungry bird-kenning children who desperately need his aid. Caught between devotion to his family and his art and protecting a group of outcast children, Renzo struggles for a solution that will keep everyone safe in this atmospheric adventure.
When I was browsing through my library I saw this book on the shelf. I was immediately interested in the running shadows on the brick wall, and the beautiful glass falcon taking up most of the cover. One of my favorite animals is the hawk and falcon, so I was immediately wanting to know more. As I read the synopsis it sounded like just the book for me, set back in time and revolving around something I didn’t know about, but sounded very interesting: glass blowing.
Venice. A beautiful setting for the book, and the fact that I know little of this city and it’s history made it all the more an idea to pull me in. Much of what I read kept me wanting to know more, about Renzo’s life, but more importantly the city he lives in. The assassins to keep great secrets about the glass blowing, and just the beauty of it all. For someone who deeply enjoys history this was a great glimpse at it. Although I didn’t learn much about Venice in the late fifteenth century it was enough to peak my curiosity.
I loved the setting and the mystery surrounding the glass, and the bird children. Even from the prologue I was intrigued and as I continued to read I wanted to learn more. Although it was confusing because the book would change points of view. It took a while to understand how the second point of view connected with the first.
I like the relations ship between Renzo and the mysterious girl. The author wasn’t too quick to make either of them trusting, and yet it didn’t take too long for them to become good companions. I really liked all the characters in this book and I wish there was a sequel. The ending felt sudden, and I wished I could have learned more about the bird children. I came to know that they were just different, not necessarily wielding power to control their birds. Although it did seem like there was something more magical about it than they let on.
Violence: 4/10 (a characters eye got stabbed)
Language: 0/10 (from what I remember)
Inappropriateness/Romance: 0/10 (I think)
Audiences: Ages 12 and up