Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles (Harcourt, 2005). Comfort Snowberger, age 10, and her family "live to serve." As owners of a small-town funeral home, they honor the dead and support those left behind. Comfort has grown-up sensitive but matter-of-fact about death, even when it strikes those she loves most. Her cousin Peach, on the other hand, is a messy, mortifying disaster, a burden and an embarrassment, and her best friend Declaration at times a prickly mystery. Not that Comfort is left to cope alone. She has a family, a whole community behind her, and the world's best funeral dog, Dismay. Ages 8-12.
Those who keep up with my blog know that this book has taken me longer to read than most, partly because I've been busy getting my revision in and partly because it was so deeply felt that it seemed best to absorb it in small doses.
Each Little Bird That Sings may be the most honest and profound look at life and death ever crafted for a middle grade audience. It offers truth, hope, and, most impressively of all, perspective. Humor is also a welcome ingredient as is a small-town charm, both benefts of Deborah's powerful voice.
Deborah was the Alabama Children's Author of the Year, 2004, and the recipient of the 2004 PEN/Phyllis Reynolds Naylor Working Writer Fellowship.
Yesterday's trip to the dentist reminds me of Open Wide: Tooth School Inside by Laurie Keller (Henry Holt, 2000). Y'all will be thrilled, I'm sure, to learn, that I have excellent oral hygiene.
Note that Laurie is also the author of another picture book I love, The Scrambled States of America (Henry Holt, 1998), especially for its emphasis on one of my home states, Kansas.
I'm getting ready here for the Texas Library Association conference in Austin next week. If you're incoming, see Greg's Austin Restaurant Guide for TLAers.
Cynsational News & Links
The YA Authors cafe topic for April 5 is YA Comes Out: Queer Themes in Teen Lit with guest host Brent Hartinger, and guests Ellen Wittlinger, Julie Anne Peters, Alex Sanchez, and Chris Tebbetts. All chats are held on Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. EST, 7:30 Central.
The 1st Annual Community Literacy Fair, serving Shriners Hospital for Children in Los Angeles and the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation, will be April 8 from noon to 2 p.m.
Learn more about National Poetry Month.
More personally, take a virtual tour of one of my alma maters, The University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor.