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Literature / May Bird

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May Bird is a trilogy book series by Jodi Lynn Anderson begun in 2005, revolving around the titular young girl named May Ellen Bird who lives in West Virginia with her mom and her hairless Rex cat named Somber Kitty. After she falls into the lake located in Briery Swamp just outside her house, she finds herself in a world of ghosts, ghouls, and other strange creatures, known as the Ever After. With the help of Somber Kitty, a houseghost named Pumpkin, a ghost girl named Beatrice, a ghost captain named Fabbio, and a host of other characters, May Bird must find her way back home again and avoid the clutches of the evil Bo Cleevil who is ever expanding his illegitimate rule in the Ever After.

The first two books, May Bird and the Ever After and May Bird Among the Stars cover May Bird's escape from the Ever After. The final book in the trilogy, May Bird, Warrior Princess, has her coming back to the Ever After after a significant amount of time has passed and saving it from the clutches of Bo Cleevil.

Tropes present in this book series are:

  • Big Bad: Bo Cleevil, who lords over the dark spirits and is planning to conquer all of the Ever After and, later, Earth.
  • Big Good: The Lady of the North Farm, but it's played with; although we never see any of it on screen, she's noted as doing terrible things just as often as she is helpful. It's notable too that the ghosts of the North Farm are the most benevolent in the series.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Somber Kitty's ability to dance, which really comes in handy distracting the ghosts in South Place at The Bogey's party.
    • Pumpkin's ability to sing beautifully comes in handy a couple times in the books, even putting Dark Spirits that had captured the group to sleep.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Pumpkin. He's constantly getting distracted by shiny things, making bizarre references to real-world media, and doing things like naming his horse "Pumpkin is the best". A lot of normal people in the Ever After seem to qualify, though.
  • Coming of Age Story: The book series is one for May Bird on a whole, but especially the last book where she, now thirteen, finally becomes the Warrior Princess archetype that she saw prophesied in the first book.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover to the first book features May Bird looking distressed as three scary looking figures watch her ominously from the shadows. The three people depicted there are actually all ghosts she befriends in the Ever After, and aren't malicious in the least.
  • Deader than Dead: People who die just become ghosts, but even ghosts can be disposed of. Such as being sucked into nothingness by The Bogey or vaporized by Bo Cleevil.
  • Death of a Child: There are plentiful number of child ghosts, including Beatrice, who died from a number of ways. There is also the Luminous Boys, who were outright killed by The Bogeyman.
  • Disappeared Dad: We never see any hint of May Bird having a father. Even odder is that Beatrice also doesn't seem to have—or have any desire to find—her father, even though he should logically be dead and in the Ever After as well as her mother.
  • Exact Words: An example of how tricky the Lady of the North Farm can be. In the second book, she tells May Bird that the way home would be under the Bogey's bed. When she gets there, all she finds is a note that says "home is behind you now". At first she thinks that the lady had tricked her. But then after she had already left the Bogey's bedroom, she realizes that, when she was reading that note, the Bogey's closet was literally behind her. The portal back home was within the Bogey's closet.
  • Funny Foreigner: Capt. Fabbio, speaking with a thick accent and hilariously incompetent in finding his way to places (which is how he and his crew died.)
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the final book, Pumpkin does this for May, tackling and struggling with Bo Cleevil when she's clearly outmatched against him. As a result, both of them end up rolling onto the Bridge of Souls and both are turned into stars.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: This is how May Bird feels at the beginning of the first book, being constantly teased and ignored by the other children because of how weird she is.
    • On a darker note, Bo Cleevil himself amasses wealth and power and seeks to even control Earth because he's painfully lonely and empty inside.
  • Irony: Bo Cleevil constantly calls May Bird a "dust speck" as a form of insult, reminding her of how small she is compared to him. In the climax of the second book, it's a small dust speck, from a sack of stardust that he shakes out of her pack, that gets in his eye and causes him to ultimately fail to stop her from going home. Proving that even a dust speck can have a huge impact.
  • La Résistance: One forms in response to Bo Cleevil taking over the Ever After in the third book, surprisingly comprised mostly of other humans that ended up in the Ever After and weren't able to find their way out.
  • Nose Nuggets: Nose picking is occasionally a source of humor in the books, especially to demonstrate how dumb some of the dark spirits are.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Bo gives this speech to May in the third book, saying that they are the same kind of lonely, singular spirit.
  • Oh, Crap!: The Bogeyman is able to let out just one whimper after Bo Cleevil finds out that May wasn't turned into nothing like he said, before Bo Cleevil vaporizes him.
    Bo Cleevil: Bogey, you've been bad.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The ghosts of the Ever After seem to come in various species, some depending on how they died and others just being created/born in the Ever After. Furthermore, all ghosts are legally required to take up "haunting duty" by going into the real world, and houseghosts haunt specific locations as employment that they can be fired from.
  • Say My Name: Bo Cleevil in the second book ends up screaming May Bird's name so loudly that it rattles the entire building after she shoots his hand and turns it to silver with one of her arrows.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Pumpkin, after receiving a horse along with everybody else in order to travel faster, sings a song about it using the lyrics from Mister Ed.
    • In the third book Pumpkin tries to make a poignant comment by quoting the tagline of Days of Our Lives. May Bird cracks up.
  • Stellification: In the final book, Pumpkin tackles Bo Cleevil across the Bridge of Souls, turning both into stars.
  • Together in Death:
    • Because the Ever After is a huge place, this can be harder than humans would think—such as demonstrated by Beatrice, who spends the first two books trying to reunite with her mother who died before she did.
    • The end of the final book states that May's friends in the Ever After are content to wait until the day she can come back and join them for good, i.e die of old age.
  • Tomes of Prophecy and Fate: The Book of the Dead, also serving as a Great Big Book of Everything, has an entry on every single person in the universe and details what they have done as well as what they will do.
  • Two-Part Trilogy: The series as a whole is a bit of an inversion; instead of the last two books forming a separate arc from the first, the first two books cover one arc and the last book covers another.
  • Unwanted False Faith: Somber Kitty's issue when found by community of Egyptian ghosts, who immediately begin venerating him. Being a cat, he doesn't know they're going to sacrifice him as part of said veneration, but he still leaves to find May Bird anyway.
  • Villains Out Shopping: When not patrolling the Ever After, The Bogeyman enjoys hosting disco-themed dance parties with the other South Place spirits. Hence his nickname "The Boogieman".
  • You Can't Fight Fate: A relatively benevolent example; when May Bird checks her own entry in the prophetic Book of the Dead, she finds that it changes periodically to three different outcomes—one where she saves the Ever After from Bo Cleevil, one where she fails and is destroyed, and one where she leaves without making any impact at all. This emphasizes that what ultimately happens to her is her own choice, although one of the three options will happen no matter what she tries.
    • Additionally, the murals in the hallway leading to the book depict the events of the third, even though they had frightened May Bird at first and she tried to avoid them.