The Bird Singers

Original title: Chanteurs d’Oiseaux

Publication Date:

May 2023



Original language and publisher

French | Les Arènes

Territories Sold

English (World) (Greystone Books, preempt)


Animals & Nature


  • Prix du 30 millions d'amis 2023 (longlisted)

The Bird Singers

Original title: Chanteurs d’Oiseaux


An absolutely adorable book, very touching, fascinating. — Elisabeth Quin – 28 minutes – Arte

It’s absolutely thrilling and spectacular. — Anne-Elisabeth Lemoine – C à vous – France 5

A book made up of anecdotes, of funny and helpful stories at the same time that evoke the particular species they imitate. — Courrier Picard

We fly with them.  — Télérama

Fantastic ! — France Inter

Impressive !  — RTL

The fabulous destiny of two children who became world-famous bird singers.

A touching and authentic story about friendship, full of humor and humanity. A wonderful exploration of the bridge between the human and natural world.

Under the immense sky of the Bay of Somme, two young boys unknowingly share the same passion. Jean, the son of a pharmacist, discovers the great diversity of bird songs and dreams to communicate with these flying creatures. Johnny, the son of a shepherd, has been immersed in bird singing all his life, because his father is an expert whistler.

When Jean, at 11 years old, asks Johnny’s father to train him for a bird singing contest, the two boys finally meet. Johnny, at nine years old, listens in secretly to their training lessons, until his father recognizes his own son’s incredible talent. Thus the boys embark on two parallel paths, carrying the same passion that will incite jealousy, but also an incredible friendship between them.

Today, the two men perform together on stages across the world, for audiences young and old, inciting laughter and tears.

In this dual-narrative that plunges us directly into the diverse world of birds, Jean and Johnny tell a formidable story of their passion, skill, and the deep bond that unites them.


That call, that call is a crystal that just pierced my body. A cry so inhumane and profoundly animalistic that my sister and my little brother take safety in my mother’s arms, thinking a bird has just crashed into the room. We rush into the kitchen. My father has frozen in his chair, my mother is petrified. Before them stands Jean, his arms spread out like the largest albatross. He has transformed into a bird from head to toe, spinning slowly as if carried by gushing winds, laughing at this imaginary storm. The incarnation is complete. He bats his broad arms, as if those limbs could help him muster another breath, and out comes the divine note again, a pure and perfect sound, riveting us with its strength. Faced with the beauty of this bird-child, uncontrollable tears roll down our cheeks.

Marketing Information

  • Initial print run: 9000 copies