For my first Perfect Picture Book of the spring, I chose a quiet book filled with friendship and nature. Enjoy!
Written & Illustrated By: Julie Flett
Publisher/Date: Greystone Books/2019
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: moving, #OwnVoices, nature, intergenerational, creativity, friendship
It’s a mucky spring morning as we pack up the last of our belongings and leave our little home in the city by the sea.
I’m going to miss my friends and cousins and aunties and uncles. I’m going to miss my bedroom window and the tree outside.
“Goodbye, tree friend,” I whisper.
When a lonely young girl moves to a new home, she becomes friends with an elderly neighbor who helps her discover the beauty of her new surroundings.
Links to Resources:
- Have you moved from one house or neighborhood to another one? Draw a picture of something you miss from your old house or something you like in your new home;
- In the summer time, Katherena’s new home “hums with peeps and whistles and ribbits and chirps.” What do you hear when you’re outside?
- Check out the Teachers Guide for more resources.
Why I Like this Book:
Arranged by seasons and incorporating a few Cree words, Birdsong is a beautiful and multi-layered picture book that explores how one young girl adapts to her new home and life through her interactions with a kindly neighbor. As a serial mover whose kids have trouble naming their hometown, I can relate to Katherena’s sadness at leaving family and friends behind and venturing to a new, unfamiliar location.
An art lover, Katherena has no desire to draw in her new home until she meets Agnes, an elderly neighbor who shares her own creative endeavors and the beauty of her garden. Through Agnes, Katherena learns to appreciate the beauty of her new surroundings, and the two share their art and cultures.
I love that Flett highlights the power of intergenerational friendship, especially as both friends learn from each other and benefit from the relationship. I also love how nature, including the birds in the title, provides a bond between these neighbors.
The soft pastel and pencil illustrations provide sweeping views of nature, a lovely invitation to go outside and explore our own bit of the world.
A Note about Craft:
Flett perfectly ties together so many themes in this quietly beautiful picture book: moving, loneliness, creativity, Cree language and culture, friendship, and intergenerational relationships.
She arranges Birdsong by seasons, an apt metaphor, I think, for life as the two main characters, young Katherena and elderly Agnes, are in the different seasons of their lives.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!