Seidler, Tor. The Silent Spillbills. Harper Collins, 1998. ISBN 0-062-05180-6. $15.00. 216 pp. A 4-8 FI Reviewed by Tom Wright A stutterer, Katerina Farnsworth is entering the seventh grade. Her self-consciousness isolates her from her classmates. She spends most of her time bird watching. However, events transpire that thrust her into the public arena. Katerina and her father, an aeronautical engineer, discover a new bird species that exists only in the wetlands near Farnsworth Aeronautics. The amazing agility of the “Silent Spillbills,” as they are affectionately named by father and daughter, inspires a new design for a jet aircraft. Inspiration and creation come together when the prototype crashes after some Spillbills are sucked into its engine. Katerina finds herself fighting her grandfather, founder and CEO, over the future of the birds. Adroitly mingled amidst this chain of events are some charming characters, such as Katerina’s dry-witted German mother and her self-absorbed bully of a grandfather. Readers will also appreciate Katerina’s emerging romantic interests and her fear of communication because of her stuttering. Neither heavy handed nor overly sentimental, Seidler moves smoothly through the events and emotions of this story. Apart from its literary merits, this could certainly be integrated into science or social studies discussions on shrinking habitats or endangered species.
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