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A tender, luminous portrait of art, nature, and connecting across generations.

When a young girl moves from the country to a small town, she feels lonely and out of place. But soon she meets an elderly woman next door, who shares her love of arts and crafts. Can the girl navigate the changing seasons and failing health of her new friend? Acclaimed author and artist Julie Flett’s textured images of birds, flowers, art, and landscapes bring vibrancy and warmth to this powerful story, which highlights the fulfillment of intergenerational relationships and shared passions.

A brief glossary and pronunciation guide to Cree-Métis words that appear in the text is provided on the copyright page.---from the publisher

48 pages                                      978-1771644730                               Ages 4-8

Keywords:  multigenerational, nature, sharing, fitting in, belonging, seasons, change, relationships, 4 year old, 5 year old, 6 year old, 7 year old, Canada, art, artist, Indigenous Canadian Author, growing old, poignant, indigenous people

Shortlisted for the 2019 Governor General's Literary Awards!

Named as one of Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2019!


“All my life’s a circle

But I can’t tell you why.

Seasons spinning ‘round again;

The years keep rollin’ by.”

-- Harry Chapin (1972)

“When we’re done, Agnes says it’s like a poem for her heart.

Then I sit with Agnes and talk about making things:

mucky things and things with string and song

and paper and words. And then we sit quietly together,

on Agnes’s bed, until it’s time to say goodbye.”

Last week, I reached the date that I could sign up for Medicare in advance of my 65th birthday. My mind protests: I don’t feel very old at all! But as time goes on, it’s taking more and more out of my body when I repeatedly run up and down the stairs with grandchildren on my back. And there are some manual tasks I used to take pride in completing, which I have officially sworn off until my next lifetime. No more breaking up concrete slabs!

When I was young, I had important intergenerational relationships with my grandparents. It’s startling to think how old they appeared to me as a child when they were my current age. And when I do the math, beloved elderly mentors I met in grad programs were not as old as they seemed earlier.

There are a number of cherished children’s books about intergenerational friendships. For me, WILFRED GORDON McDONALD PARTRIDGE by Mem Fox; GRANDPA by John Burningham; NANA UPSTAIRS AND NANA DOWNSTAIRS by Tomie de Paola; and MR. GEORGE BAKER by Amy Hest and Jon J. Muth, are long-treasured books that I first read to preschoolers who are now parents.

BIRDSONG by Julie Flett is a notable new picture book about an intergenerational friendship. It’s well worth adding to the collection.

Katherena has moved with her mother from a seaside city to a new home out in the country. Katherena has always loved to draw, but she is struggling with the relocation, and she doesn’t feel like drawing now. That is, until  she meets her elderly neighbor Agnes.

Agnes works with clay. The budding friendship between the two artists inspires Katherena to resume her drawing. And when age and winter confine Agnes to her bed, it is Katherena’s artwork taped all over the elderly neighbor’s bedroom that lifts Agnes’s spirits.

I think back to the traits and actions that elders have modeled, like patience, ingenuity, compassion; and opening doors for others. I think of the continuum in which I find myself: I once had a childhood relationship with a grandmother born across the ocean in the 1880s. I now have relationships with grandchildren born in the 2010s. Such relationships bridging generations are so valuable for both the older and the younger friend. And that’s why BIRDSONG is a real winner.

Recommended by:  Richie Partington, MLIS, California USA

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