Picture your average 10 year old and more than likely you will not be envisioning an author. But Nancy Yi Fan was already an author at that tender age, working on a fantasy novel that would be published when she was barely a teen. SWORDBIRD is an animal fantasy in the same vein as Brian Jacques (though mercifully much shorter). The blue jays and cardinals are at war; that war is being deliberately caused by Slimebeak (great name, right?) who needs more birds to be his slaves. When the jays and cardinals discover this treachery, they must find a way to defeat their common foe.
So, how good is the book? Is it good considering the age of the author? Nope, it is better than I expected given all the hype. There are some lovely details and some remarkable use of language. It is not overwrought as some of the teen authors' works have been of late (not going to mention any names here, but you all can fill in those blanks, I think). The birds have their individual identities, their own voices if you will. I do love some of the references to bird's more human-like behavior as they tip-claw (rather than tip toe). All in all, I enjoyed the story and anticipate there will be sequels coming along shortly.
Is it something in the water since suddenly we are being besieged by these wunderkinds? I remember that Hinton wrote in her teens as did Maureen Daly, Amelia Atwater Rhodes, and Christopher Paolini. So, perhaps this is not as much as phenomenon as an oddity, All I know is that I informed the resident teens that they needed to get busy!