cover image Birdie


Eileen Spinelli. Eerdmans, $16 (208p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5513-8

Spinelli (Love You Always) uses free verse to relay this tender and perceptive story about a 12-year-old negotiating the choppy waters of adolescence. Life is distressingly in flux for Birdie Briggs, so nicknamed for her love of birds (“there is something/ light and feathery/ in my heart/ at the idea/ that a bird/ may be weaving/ the hairs from my brush/ into its nest”). She misses her father, a firefighter who died three years earlier in the line of duty. Now, her best friend, Martin (whom, she laments, “was supposed/ to be my first boyfriend”), has a crush on a new girl in the neighborhood, and Birdie isn’t thrilled that her mother has begun dating a police officer: “I just wish he’d get transferred/ to the North Pole./ Or decide to become a monk.” And even her feisty widowed grandmother has found a suitor, making Birdie feel more alone. While unveiling her own frustrations and fears, Birdie’s earnest narrative presents convincing portraits of these and additional sympathetic characters to shape a meaningful tale about intergenerational bonds, true friendship, and the need to embrace change. Ages 10–14. [em](Apr.) [/em]