Sunday, January 22, 2006

Each Little Bird that Sings

Wiles, Deborah. 2005. EACH LITTLE BIRD THAT SINGS. San Diego: Harcourt. ISBN 0152051139 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]

Snowberger’s Funeral Home in Snapfinger, Mississippi lives to serve. Comfort Snowberger, little sister Merry, older brother Tidings, Mama and Daddy, Great-uncle Edisto, Great-aunt Florentine, and their faithful dog, Dismay, all serve the residents of Snapfinger whenever there is a death in the community. Comfort has always relied on Great-uncle Edisto’s wisdom and companionship during picnics at Listening Rock. His cheerful advice to her was, “Open your arms to life! Great-aunt Florentine taught Comfort her love of geography. Their deaths, within six months of each other, leave Comfort grief stricken. Snowberger’s Funeral Home cannot get Great-aunt Florentine buried before calamity strikes again. A brutal storm hits the town “on a Wednesday afternoon in September just before Labor Day weekend.” Comfort gets trapped in the storm with Dismay and her cousin, Peach. She must choose between doing the right thing or following her best friend.

Thus begins the epic journey of Comfort Snowberger to find her place in the universe. Her newspaper columns, which include the “Top Ten Tips for First-Rate Funeral Behavior,” her friend Declaration Johnson, Cousin Peach Shuggars, and Dismay, all help her find the path. The heartwarming and life affirming glimpses into southern culture, dialect, and family love allow this book to transcend the sad topic of death. “Let life strut into your heart in all its messy glory!”

Make a replica of Listening Rock with felt. Have a picnic on it to discuss times readers have been faced with difficult choices. What did they choose? Have the readers draw a picture of how they envision their favorite character in the book.

Other books about families, dogs, and storms:
DiCamillo, Kate. BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE. ISBN 0439250722
Ryan, Pam Munoz. ESPERANZA RISING. ISBN 0439120411
Rylant, Cynthia. MISSING MAY. ISBN 0531059960

By Judy Brown McKenna

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