Review of Miss Irwin

Miss Irwin Miss Irwin
by Allen Say; illus. by the author
Primary    Scholastic    32 pp.
4/23  9781338300406    $19.99

Remembering what his parents have told him about Grandma, second grader Andy patiently goes along when she calls him by the wrong name, confusing him for a student she’d taught long ago. “I had you in kindergarten…I am Miss Irwin.” He asks her (“Grandma…I mean, Miss Irwin?”) about a small nest he finds in a box in her house. She reminds “Willie” how he used to watch birds through the classroom window, and how she set up a hummingbird feeder in the plum tree outside; in turn, on the last day of school he gave her a tiny bird’s nest he had made. When she says, “Wouldn’t it be lovely to make nectar again?” her grandson suggests they put up a bird feeder. Facing pages contain close-up portraits of Andy on one side, saying, “It’ll be fun to feed the hummingbirds together, Gran,” and a beaming Grandma on the other, replying, “Nothing would make me happier, Andy.” Just as Miss Irwin years before had forged a connection with quiet, bird-loving Willie, Andy finds a way to reach his beloved grandmother. Say illustrates his gentle, loving story with softly sun-dappled, colorful oil paintings that range from hazy to clear, depending on the clarity of Grandma’s mind and memory. A brief but heartfelt author’s note explains the story’s origins.

Pubissue-From the May/June 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jennifer M. Brabander

Jennifer M. Brabander is former senior editor of The Horn Book Magazine. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature from Simmons University.

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