A local author, Kingsley Ross Hill, is celebrating the release of his newest novel – Jerry the Magpie.
The book is based on the true story of Hill’s unique friendship with a magpie as a teenage boy.
“It was quite an amazing experience,” said Hills, who grew up in Swansea, Wales. “He had such a dramatic effect on my life.”
As a young child, Hill was often bullied in school and felt like he didn’t fit in. While other boys his age played sports, he explored the outdoors and spent much of his time alone.
At age 13, he found a baby magpie in the grass thought to be abandoned by its parents and too young to survive on its own. He took the bird home where it lived in his sock drawer for several weeks. By some miracle, Hill’s parents let the bird stay.
“All of a sudden, I had this little life to protect and take care of, so it wasn’t just me anymore,” said Hill. “I was able to transcend some of the pain and the brokenness of just not fitting in.”
With his focus shifted, Hill had a new sense of purpose. His self-esteem and confidence started to grow along with the bird’s friendship.
“There’s an innocence with animals, as they’re not jaded by life,” he said. “They show such incredible, unconditional love and affection. They treat everyone the same.”
Soon enough, Jerry the magpie would flap his wings to fly up on Hill’s shoulder each morning, accompanying him at breakfast and on his walk to school. The other kids at school quickly took notice of the unusual pair, and Hill found himself as the centre of attention for the first time. He was given the opportunity to build a rapport with his peers and make new friendships.
“People who had didn’t want anything to do with me before wanted to know who this magpie was,” he said. “Through him, I made my two best friends who I still see and stay with when I go back to visit the UK.”
The pair spent two whimsical years together. The book includes tales from their time together as boy and bird, including getting kicked out of a grocery store for stealing lunch meat and admiring Jerry’s collection of shiny coins hidden in a tree.
A book signing will be held this Saturday, Oct. 29 at Sunshine ‘N Gelato, located at 1229B Canyon Street, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Hills is self-published and has since released a sequel – The Further Adventures of Jerry the Magpie. Each copy costs $17.99 or both books can be purchased for $25, available at Cresteramics on Main Street. For more on Hill’s literary works, visit kingsleyrosshillbooks.com.