Birdgirl: Looking to the Skies in Search of a Better Future (Hardcover)
British-Bangladeshi birder, environmentalist and activist Mya-Rose Craig is an international force. In her moving memoir, Birdgirl, she chronicles her mother’s struggle with mental illness, and shares her passion for social justice and fierce dedication to preserving our planet.
Meet Mya-Rose – otherwise known as “Birdgirl.” In her words: “Birdwatching has never felt like a hobby, or a pastime I can pick up and put down, but a thread running through the pattern of my life, so tightly woven in that there’s no way of pulling it free and leaving the rest of my life intact.”
Birdgirl follows Mya-Rose and her family as they travel the world in search of rare birds and astonishing landscapes. But a shadow moves with them, too—her mother's deepening mental health crisis. In the face of this struggle, the Craigs turn to nature again and again for comfort and meaning.
Each bird they see brings a moment of joy and reflection, instilling in Mya-Rose a deep love of the natural world. But Mya-Rose has also seen first-hand the reckless destruction we are inflicting on our fragile planet, as well as the pervasive racism infecting every corner of the world, leading her to campaign for Black, Indigenous, people of color.
Joining the fight of today's young environmental activists, Mya-Rose shares her experiences to advocate for the simple, profound gift of nature, and for making it accessible to all, calling her readers to rediscover the power of our natural world.
Birder, activist, daughter: this is her story.
About the Author
Mya-Rose Craig, also known as Birdgirl, is a 20-year-old British-Bangladeshi birder, environmentalist, and diversity activist. She campaigns for equal access to nature and to end the climate and biodiversity loss crises, issues which she believes are intrinsically linked, while promoting Global Climate Justice. She also fights for the rights of indigenous peoples, is an Ambassador for Survival International and has previously written a book in the UK amplifying their voices.
At age fourteen she founded Black2Nature to engage teenagers of color with nature and at seventeen she became the youngest Briton to receive an honorary Doctorate, awarded by Bristol University for this pioneering work. Also at seventeen she became the youngest person to see half the world's bird species and shared a stage with Greta Thunberg, speaking to 40,000 protestors. In September 2020 she held the world's most northerly Youth Strike, traveling with Greenpeace, for whom she is an Oceans' Ambassador, to the melting pack ice of the high Arctic.
“Although the descriptions of her travels and countless interesting birds are eye-opening and fascinating, it’s the author’s sharp focus on how bird-watching became an important part of the family’s process of working with her mother’s mental illness that makes the text stand out from other birding memoirs… An excellent mix of travelogue, memoir, and advocacy.”
–Kirkus, STARRED Review
“The astuteness with which the 20-year-old writes about her early life will reassure readers that our future is in good hands.”
"In her dynamic debut...Craig touches on her 2016 founding of the charity Black2Nature...sprinkles in background on endangered species and conservation efforts to save them, and offers something of a bird-watching 101 that covers techniques and explains the field’s jargon. This will inspire nature-minded readers."
“Birdgirl is an essential read for a new generation of birders and environmentalists. Author Mya-Rose Craig discovered her passion for birding at a young age, and her eloquent, poignant memoir is a stellar example of how spending time in nature is not only a hobby but a unique healer during challenging times.”
–David Barrett, author of A Big Manhattan Year: Tales of Competitive Birding, @BirdCentralPark on Twitter
“Craig is one to watch, for sure—her passion and knowledge will change the world.”
"This is a forthright and compelling chronicle by a remarkable birder, environmentalist, and advocate.... Craig turned a love of birds and coping with family challenges into environmental and Indigenous rights activism."
–Booklist, STARRED Review
"Jeannette Walls’s The Glass Castle meets Neil Hayward’s Lost Among the Birds, and it will likely generate strong millennial appeal as well."
"Mya-Rose Craig has done more than anyone to promote birding and environmental issues to young people from all backgrounds - especially women of colour - and deserves our admiration and praise."
―Stephen Moss, author of THE ROBIN
"Mya-Rose's passion and dedication for the causes she believes in are testament to what we humans can achieve when we are at our best."
―Liz Bonnin, President of the Wildlife Trust
"Craig manages to capture so vividly what birds mean to her and her family... filled with...hope and energy."
"[Craig's] book reads like a cross between a travel diary, an ornithologist's guide and a thriller."
"A frank, open account of how birdwatching provided solace during Mya-Rose's teenage years... [we are] given an insight into a fascinating family of bird-lovers."
"This memoir will inspire readers with an eye for nature--as well as those interested in climate change and conservation--to look to the skies and find inspiration for a better future in all of the majestic beauty that surrounds us."
–Shelf Awareness, STARRED Review