cover image Birdie’s Billions

Birdie’s Billions

Edith Cohn. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (274p) ISBN 978-1-5476-0711-2

Skateboarder Birdie, 11 and white, lives with her single mother in fancy Valley Lake, where they moved so her mom could make more money. But soon after Birdie inadvertently causes her mom to get fired from her housecleaning job, jeopardizing their ability to pay rent, an incident at a local lake sees the wealthy mother of Birdie’s best friend forbidding the relationship, citing Birdie as a “bad influence” from “the wrong side of town.” It doesn’t help that Birdie feels she has to keep secrets about her situation, including her mom’s need for work and her father’s incarceration. All Birdie wants is to not have to worry about finances, so when she follows a cat into an abandoned house and finds $500,000 in a wall, she devises a way to post some to her mom. But the transformation has complicating effects: Birdie tells lies to keep her cover, frets about the origin of the money, and suddenly isn’t so sure who she is anymore. Cohn’s (Spirit’s Key) entertaining tale is infused with timely reflections on class, money, and privilege. Birdie’s frustration and pain are profound, and her feelings about wealth are increasingly complex. A deftly plotted story that thoughtfully renders a close parent-child bond while engaging readers through the mystery of the money. Ages 10–12. (Dec.)