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Birdsong
2019
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Summary

A Publishers Weekly best picture book of 2019!
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year!
A Horn Book Fanfare Best Picture Book of 2019!
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2019!
A Quill & Quire Kids Books of the Year!
SHORTLISTED for the 2019 Governor General's Literary Award!
A Globe and Mail top 100 books of 2019!

A tender, luminous portrait of art, nature, and connecting across generations.

When a young girl moves from the country to a small town, she feels lonely and out of place. But soon she meets an elderly woman next door, who shares her love of arts and crafts. Can the girl navigate the changing seasons and failing health of her new friend? Acclaimed author and artist Julie Flett's textured images of birds, flowers, art, and landscapes bring vibrancy and warmth to this powerful story, which highlights the fulfillment of intergenerational relationships and shared passions.

A brief glossary and pronunciation guide to Cree-Métis words that appear in the text is provided on the copyright page.

Trade Reviews
School Library Journal Review
K-Gr 2--When a young girl moves to a new home in the country, her initial loneliness is soothed by a new friendship. It's spring and she is packing up her home in the city by the sea and moving to a new house. Her new home in the country has two trees, snowdrops, creaky stairs, and a older neighbor named Agnes. When summer comes, the girl begins her friendship with Agnes, who shows her the garden and all her clay things, shaped like birds and flowers. She visits Agnes often and they become great friends, and teach each other much as the seasons change. After the winter, Agnes can't get out as much and the little girl finds a way to bring the outside world to her. The story is made up of short scenes punctuated by chapter headings naming the changing seasons. This format provides a perfect backdrop to the growing friendship between Agnes and the young girl. In the summer, Agnes teaches the child about berries and plants; in the fall, they bury leaves in the soil to prepare it for spring and to feed the worms. The young girl learns about waxing and waning moons from Agnes and in turn she tells Agnes about the Cree seasons. This is a beautiful portrait of an intergenerational friendship where both parties have something to share and learn. Each episode is written in spare and poetic verse, with the small text placed carefully on each beautiful spread. Simple and elegantly composed, the digital illustrations highlight the soft fuzzy texture of the girl's bird drawings and the hazy, winter air filled with snow. Small details abound, such as the crisp dark lines of the kitchen cabinets in an intimate kitchen scene that become fuzzy behind a cloud of steam rising from the pot of salmon stew. The Cree words used by the characters are given context within the text and a phonetic glossary at the beginning is a helpful tool for readers unfamiliar with the language. VERDICT Simple and profound, this tender story is a reminder that finding a new friend can make a new place feel like home. Highly recommended for purchase.--Laken Hottle, Providence Community Library
Booklist Review
Young Katherena is sad about leaving home and all that is familiar there, as, in the spring, she and her mother move to the country, to a house in a field. Come summertime, Katherena is still glum and lonely, but a visit to Agnes, her elderly neighbor, proves to be a turning point. Despite the considerable difference in their ages, they strike up a companionship: Katherena teaches Agnes words in Cree, and Agnes teaches her about gardening. Here Flett offers readers a way to appreciate change over time. The book is organized by seasons, beginning and ending with spring, and over the year, both Agnes and Katherena come to share their artistic gifts with each other and form a friendship. Flett's prose and art are characteristically pared down to reveal power in simplicity. The landscape and earth's bounty are as integral as the people are to this tender story of nothing much just life. But, after all, what else is there?--Amina Chaudhri Copyright 2019 Booklist
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