Review of Birdsong

Birdsong
by Julie Flett; illus. by the author
Primary    Greystone Kids    56 pp.
9/19    978-1-77164-473-0    $17.95
e-book ed.  978-1-77164-474-7    $17.95

In spring Katherena, her mother, and their dog Ôhô pack up their “little home in the city by the sea” and move to their “new home [that] sits on a hill.” The new place is in a peaceful, bucolic setting, but it’s quite isolated. At her mother’s urging, Katherena befriends their neighbor, an elderly woman named Agnes who enjoys gardening and working with pottery. Season by season, the young girl and elderly woman continue meeting and talking while sharing their passion for flora, fauna, and art. The passage of time is indicated by brief pauses in the text (“Spring” “Summer” “Fall” “Winter” “Spring”) and with season-specific imagery in the gorgeous digitally composed pastel and pencil illustrations. The text is smooth and lyrical, but the pictures could almost tell the story by themselves, each composition portraying the emotional journey of Agnes and Katherena (and with glimmers of Katherena’s mother). Cree-Métis author/illustrator Flett’s words and images truly capture the warmth and solidarity of the female protagonists and the ideal of respect for our elders. This tender intergenerational friendship story beautifully portrays the ways in which human connections are strengthened through love of art and nature. A glossary of the few Cree words included in the text is appended.

From the November/December 2019 Horn Book Magazine.

Sujei Lugo

Sujei Lugo is a former elementary school librarian at the University of Puerto Rico Elementary School and currently works as a children’s librarian at the Boston Public Library, Connolly Branch. She is a doctoral candidate in Library and Information Science at Simmons University, focusing her research on anti-racist children’s librarianship.

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