In Julie Flett’s Birdsong, a young girl, Katherena, and her mother move from their home in the city to one in the countryside. The mother and daughter adjust to the move as spring warms into summer. The girl, a budding artist, loses her desire to create until she meets a fellow artist.
Agnes, their neighbor is an elderly woman who “loves to make things out of clay.” Katherena and Agnes form a kinship and the young girl is inspired again to create. As winter looms, though, sad changes are on the horizon for the duo.
What I Loved
The imagery in this book is just as moving as its language. I love how moody and yet so dreamy the illustrations are. The author Julie Flett is also an illustrator and artist and it shows. This is one of those picture books I’d buy just to pore over when I need inspiration to create.
I love stories about children forming bonds with older people — whether they’re grandparents or just friends more than half a century older. Katherena’s friendship with Agnes is heartwarming and provides a much needed balm to the loneliness that can come from moving to a new place.
Finally, the author is Cree-Metis, which I’ve learned (thank you, Wikipedia) are First Nation North American tribes (Canada, specifically). She infuses words and phrases in her dialect into the story, ever so naturally. It’s always a pleasure to learn new things from books without feeling actively schooled.
Birdsong is a gem of a picture book. With minimalist, evocative illustrations of the Canadian countryside, this book is a joy read (or just look at). It highlights the warm friendship between a woman at the end of her life and a young girl. Birdsong is perfect for kids dealing with a move or struggling with the loss of a loved one. It’s also great to inspire anyone who’s ever been in a creative slump.
10/10, would recommend.
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More Picture Book Reviews
Which picture books about nature, art, or bonding with older people have you loved recently? At this point, I have to plan a picture book book list soon! Let me know your favorite picture books, if you have any.