Well, what a truly magical book!
Not only is its cover stunning and its inside illustratins beautiful (Anuska Allepuz), the effortless, smooth prose is completely absorbing too. I’m really glad I found this little gem because, it’s a short book to read, and has the rare quality of being an under-the-radar, mystical and dream-like quality of a book that any age of person could read.
About Alberto, the stalwart coffin-maker of the intriguing and wondrous hill-town of Allora, his family and his relations with the people of the small town that live below him, this book is also about how Alberto deals with the new arrival of an orphan called Tito and his colourful bird, Fia, into his steady life.
Although most of The Boy, the Bird & The Coffin Maker has an innocent quality about it, there is still a (albeit quite gentle) definite threat by the town’s mayor (and his strange desire to have the best coffin made for himself), and an evil man ripping the town apart trying to find his son – Tito. But Tito ran from his father after his mother died, and has been on the run from him ever since. We see Tito’s father only a few times, but in those moments he is truly sinister and we understand why Tito wants to stay with Alberto.
Matilda Wood’s writing is even more magical on many levels because it is both a fairy-tale as well as a mini-study on how an old man who has lost his own family takes to helping a young boy find meaning and peace in his shattered life.
It takes a rare talent to create such a short, intense burst of a beautiful book and Matilda Woods clearly has this in abundance. I could hardly put this story down, and think The Boy, the Bird & The Coffin Maker is one of those books everyone should read. Plus, it should win an award for the best name in any book for years – Tito Bonito. Tito Bonito…! A magical name fitting in with a magical book. Stunning.