The best middle grade fantasy books somehow featuring birds

Who am I?

I’ve always been passionate about horses – in fact, I’ve adopted five wild mustangs over the years and ride often – so it’s no surprise that they often find their way into my stories. But birds and feathers tend to be important elements of my books, too. I live on a working family farm surrounded by hawks, bald eagles, blue herons, swans, owls, and countless others… but I suspect the true reason there are birds in my books has to do with the little sparrows who like to perch on my windowsill as I write!


I wrote...

Book cover of The Last Windwitch

What is my book about?

Brida is a hedgewitch’s apprentice in isolated Oak Hollow, but her fickle magic never seems to cooperate. While trying to gather herbs in the woods one day, she stumbles across a herd of mythical stormhorses and accidentally draws the attention of the Queen of Crows. On the run from the queen’s Huntsman and a flock of crow spies, she discovers the secret truth about her family and her own special power. To save everyone she loves, she must learn to master her magic, free the stormhorses, and defeat the queen before wild storms and a collapsing climate destroy the realm. 

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Cinders and Sparrows

Jennifer Frances Adam Why did I love this book?

When Zita Brydgeborn, an orphan employed as a cranky widow’s maid, receives an unexpected letter delivered by a scarecrow she is thrust into the heart of a mysterious battle between good and evil. Discovering that she might be the only living heir to a dynasty of witches, she must learn more than spells and charms if she hopes to survive the foe who claimed her family’s souls. With a clever crow and two castle servants as her closest friends, Zita confronts a tangle of family secrets and sinister magic to break a deadly curse. This book is a delightfully creepy read with all the elements of my favorite stories: a brave girl with a hidden past, bird imagery, witchcraft, fiercely loyal friends, and family secrets. It’s beautifully written and strikes the perfect balance between spooky danger and gentle humor.

By Stefan Bachmann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cinders and Sparrows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

"Readers won't be able to turn the pages fast enough."-Soman Chainani, New York Times-bestselling author of The School for Good and Evil series

"An entertainingly witchy world."-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

A suspenseful tale of witches, family, and magic from internationally bestselling author Stefan Bachmann. When a twelve-year-old orphan unexpectedly becomes the mistress of a seemingly abandoned castle, she is thrust into a mysterious plot involving murderous spells, false identity, and a magical battle of wills between the living and the dead. Readers of Kate Milford's Greenglass House, Victoria Schwab's City of Ghosts, and Diana Wynne Jones will be riveted.


Twelve-year-old…


Book cover of How to Save a Queendom

Jennifer Frances Adam Why did I love this book?

Stub-the-Nuisance is an orphan apprentice at a rough tavern with only a chicken named Peck for a friend. But when a spell-shrunk wizard appears in her pocket, she finds herself bound in an adventure to save a young queen. After years of abuse and bullying, she discovers her own strength and the joys of true friendship. This book is an absolute delight filled with detailed worldbuilding, quirky humor, and characters that will tug your heart. The focus on found family lends a deep layer of poignant authenticity to the story and makes this a book worth reading over and over again.

By Jessica Lawson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked How to Save a Queendom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

From critically acclaimed author Jessica Lawson comes a “wonderfully enchanting adventure” (Booklist) about an orphaned twelve-year-old girl who is called upon to save her queendom when she finds a tiny wizard in her pocket.

Life’s never been kind to twelve-year-old Stub. Orphaned and left in the care of the cruel Matron Tratte, Stub’s learned that the best way to keep the peace is to do as she’s told. No matter that she’s bullied and that her only friend is her pet chicken, Peck, Stub’s accepted the fact that her life just isn’t made for adventure. Then she finds a tiny…


Book cover of Unseen Magic

Jennifer Frances Adam Why did I love this book?

There are rules for living in the magical town of Aldermere, including the fact that the ravens must be fed. For Fin, it’s the first place she’s ever felt safe – especially since she can spend a memory for a cup of tea that will help her forget memories that feed her anxieties. But when a visit to the tea shop goes horribly wrong, Fin must confront the source of her fear before something sinister destroys the entire town. This is a heartwarming story about finding courage, facing your past, and trusting your friends. It’s a lovely, thoughtful, charming book steeped in unexpected magic (like doors that don’t always lead where you expect!) and deep truth. I think this could be a great book for families to read together because it offers the sort of comfort that readers of any age can appreciate. 

By Emily Lloyd-Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Unseen Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

The trick to all magic is: you can only see it if you know where to look.

The magic-infused town of Aldermere is the first place eleven-year-old Fin has ever felt safe-and she'll do whatever it takes to save her home when she accidentally unleashes a shadow self who wreaks havoc everywhere she goes. Emily Lloyd-Jones's middle grade debut is an enchanting exploration of self-discovery and finding the place you truly belong. Unseen Magic is for fans of A Wish in the Dark and A Tangle of Knots.

Aldermere is a town with its own set of rules: there's a…


Book cover of The Flight of Swans

Jennifer Frances Adam Why did I love this book?

When Princess Andaryn’s father gets lost in the woods and returns wed to a mysterious woman with magical power, her life is turned into a nightmare. To save the lives of her six brothers, she agrees to a bargain, swearing to remain silent for six years. In a cruel trick, the wicked queen transforms them into six black swans and Ryn discovers that protecting them will be far more difficult than she ever expected. But she doesn’t need a voice to fight for those she loves and seeing her courage and steadfast determination makes this a book I’ll never forget. This is a beautifully written, richly imagined retelling of the fairytale “Six Swans” or “The Wild Swans” and I loved it. Readers ready to bridge the gap between middle grade fantasy and young adult fantasy will appreciate following Ryn as she grows from powerless young girl to strong young woman.

By Sarah McGuire,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Flight of Swans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Based on the Brothers Grimm's fairy tale Six Swans, The Flight of Swans follows Ryn's journey to save her family and their kingdom.

Princess Andaryn's six older brothers have always been her protectors—until her father takes a new Queen, a frightening, mysterious woman who enchants the men in the royal family. When Ryn's attempt to break the enchantment fails, she makes a bargain: the Queen will spare her brothers' lives if Ryn remains silent for six years.

Ryn thinks she freed her brothers, but she never thought the Queen would turn her brothers into swans. And she never thought she'd…


Book cover of A Secret Of Birds & Bone

Jennifer Frances Adam Why did I love this book?

Sofia lives a quiet life with her mother, brother, and a pet crow. But her mother is a bone-binder, famous for magic keys and keepsakes made of bone, and when a silver-veiled stranger suddenly appears with a request one day a chain of events is set in motion that will challenge everything Sofia thought she knew. Taken to the city orphanage after her mother’s arrest, Sofia discovers a sinister mystery and meets a thief hiding secrets of his own. With nothing but a bone locket made by her mother, she must find the courage to escape through the catacombs and save everyone she loves. This is a dark, spooky book perfect for young readers wanting a scary thrill. It’s beautifully written and richly textured with imagery of birds and bones, shadows and secret places. 

By Kiran Millwood Hargrave,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Secret Of Birds & Bone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

A spellbinding story from the Sunday Times-bestselling
author of The Girl of Ink & Stars, winner of the Waterstones
Children's Book Prize.
'A story bursting with imagination, sparkle and tender heart
... I adored it!' JASBINDER BILAN

'Both souful poetry and thrilling adventure; powerful and
delicate, chilling and comforting' SOPHIE ANDERSON

'Ripping propulsive plot, gorgeous imagery, floating fairytale
prose ... absolutely loved it' ROSS MONTGOMERY

In an Italian city ravaged by plague, Sofia's mother carves beautiful
mementoes from the bones of loved ones. But one day, she
doesn't return home. Did her work lead her into danger?

Sofia and her…


You might also like...

Terra Blanca - Insurrection: Gaia Prequel

By Zoe Routh,

Book cover of Terra Blanca - Insurrection: Gaia Prequel

Zoe Routh Author Of The Olympus Project

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Leadership futurist Adventurist Former bellydancer Historical and speculative fiction nut Marathoner

Zoe's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A test of leadership, loyalty, and legacy. Rylie Addison faces the greatest leadership challenge of her life. As climate change ravages the world, leaving millions displaced, Rylie is handpicked by the enigmatic Maja Garcia of Gaia Enterprises to govern Terra Blanca, an unprecedented man-made island community for climate refugees.

As the stakes rise and the fragile foundations of Terra Blanca begin to crumble, Rylie is forced to confront her own beliefs and faces a leadership decision that could change the course of history. Can she find the strength to make the right choice, or will her actions lead to the downfall of the very people she has vowed to protect?

Terra Blanca - Insurrection: Gaia Prequel

By Zoe Routh,

What is this book about?

Rylie Addison faces the greatest leadership challenge of her life. As climate change ravages the world, leaving millions displaced, Rylie is handpicked by the enigmatic Maja Garcia of Gaia Enterprises to govern Terra Blanca, an unprecedented man-made island community for climate refugees.


Thrust into a new world of power and responsibility, Rylie must navigate the treacherous waters of team dynamics and power struggles as she fights to make Terra Blanca a beacon of hope amidst the chaos. But her mission takes a sinister turn when a secret agent infiltrates the community, hell-bent on testing the innovative governance and social structures…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in birds, curses, and wizards?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about birds, curses, and wizards.

Birds Explore 162 books about birds
Curses Explore 77 books about curses
Wizards Explore 94 books about wizards