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Friday, December 17, 2021

Birds on Wishbone Street, written and illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo. Pajama Press, 2021. $22.95 ages 5 and up


"Our parkette is awesome for bird watching, 
epic snow fort-building, and treasure-finding. 
Just last week we found two cardinal feathers
and a robin's eggshell.

Wishbone Street is a very interesting place to live for those who live there. They come from many different countries, with unique histories and languages. Their stories reflect their lives before they moved there. Maureen, called Moe, has an Irish background. When a new family moves in nearby, Moe wonders about the boy she sees outside her window. 

The children of Wishbone Street often meet in their parkette to share treats, time, and discoveries. To welcome the new boy, Moe places a gift on his front step; it includes mitts, hot chocolate, and a feather. She wonders if he likes the same things that she does. But she is not sure how to approach him. Birdsong and gently-falling snowflakes provide just the impetus she needs to introduce herself. He tells her that his name is Sami, and he is from Syria. 

Because they are cold, Sami invites Moe in for hot cocoa. Sami shares the drawings of birds that he has been unpacking. (Those who have read Ms. Del Rizzo's My Beautiful Birds, 2017 will have met Sami there). Sami is a Syrian refugee now, and the two find they have a strong mutual interest in birds. Together they share all the fun of winter with others from the neighborhood. In the flurry of excitement, they come upon a female cardinal, motionless from the cold. The children gather what they need to rescue it; then, they do their best to provide the warmth and rest it needs to recover. In sharing his knowledge about birds, Sami also suggests they make roosting pockets and suet feeders to help all birds make it through the cold. Their wonderful community shares in their effort. 

Following the story, Ms. Del Rizzo provides careful instructions for making the treats and pockets that Sami and Moe make. The illustrations, made using polymer clay and acrylics, will have readers in awe of the details, the ever-changing perspectives, and the wonders of the season as the two friends learn more about each other and how much they are alike. An author's note about real-life events in her life adds interest.  

This is a truly wonderful story about friendship, community and being kind. It should be shared in all early and upper elementary classrooms.                                                                                   

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