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Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 7 months, 4 weeks ago

8 December 2019 BIRDSONG by Julie Flett, Greystone Kids, October 2019, 48p., ISBN: 978-1-77164-473-1


“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.


Richie Partington, MLIS

Richie's Picks  http://richiespicks.pbworks.com





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