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Friday, November 29, 2019

Helen's Birds, by Sara Cassidy and drawn by Sophie Casson. Groundwood, 2019. $18.95 ages 8 and up

"A new home.

A new friend.

A shared love for
wild birds.

An unexpected change.


Using a graphic format and no words, Sara Cassidy and Sophie Casson tell a captivating story of friendship, loss, and legacy. Saanvi is new to the neighborhood. As she rides her tricycle she takes note of an older woman who lives nearby. She watches the woman fill bird feeders, bring home bags of seed, and welcome birds to her quiet yard. It isn't long until Helen is encouraging the little girl to help her with the work.

Their friendship grows as they share card games, great variety in weather, reading together, gardening and watching the many birds they attract with their care and attention. Years pass. Saanvi learns to watch quietly as birds build nests, feed their young and encourage them to take flight. Saanvi is a willing helper with leaves, feeding the squirrels and birds, and being a presence in Helen's life. They love nature and it is evident.

When an ambulance arrives in the middle of the night at Helen's house, Saanvi is concerned. Helen does not return home, the yard deteriorates and the house is sold. Saanvi's sadness is evident as she watches movers pack up Helen's belongings and throw her feeders in the trash. The birds disappear. The house is demolished and a gaping hole is left in the neighborhood and in the young girl's heart. Eventually, memories of Helen and the joyful times they spent together inspire Saanvi to make a change for the better in her own yard.  A welcome legacy to her dear friend.     

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