“I intend to stand firm and let the peacocks multiply, for I am sure that, in the end, the last word will be theirs.” —Flannery O’Connor
When she was young, the writer Flannery O’Connor was captivated by the chickens in her yard. She’d watch their wings flap, their beaks peck, and their eyes glint. At age six, her life was forever changed when she and a chicken she had been training to walk forwards and backwards were featured in the Pathé News, and she realized that people want to see what is odd and strange in life. But while she loved birds of all varieties and kept several species around the house, it was the peacocks that came to dominate her life. Written by Amy Alznauer with devotional attention to all things odd and illustrated in radiant paint by Ping Zhu, The Strange Birds of Flannery O’Connor explores the beginnings of one author’s lifelong obsession.
Amy Alznauer lives in Chicago with her husband, two children, a dog, a parakeet, sometimes chicks, and a part-time fish, but, as of today, no elephants or peacocks.
Ping Zhu is a freelance illustrator who has worked with clients big and small, won some awards based on the work she did for aforementioned clients, attracted new clients with shiny awards, and is hoping to maintain her livelihood in Brooklyn by repeating that cycle.
"This picture-book biography, beginning in Flannery O’Connor’s childhood and ending with her untimely death, shines a light on her love of strangeness. With its memorable opening line, “Right from the start young Flannery took a shine to chickens,” the book celebrates her fascination with life’s peculiarities—and death. The exaggerated scale and off-kilter perspectives of Zhu’s illustrations align with the book’s focus on eccentricity...The thoughtful design—at 12 inches square, as outsized as its subject—includes a type chosen because its designer, like O’Connor, had a love for drawing birds. A striking, quirky ode to a unique vision." -Kirkus