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Annotation: Still grieving for her father, twelve-year-old Birdie struggles to adjust to many changes, including when her grandmother, her mother, and her best friends all begin dating.
Catalog Number: #200675
Format: Perma-Bound from Publisher's Hardcover
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 197 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-8028-5513-X Perma-Bound: 0-7804-6679-9
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-8028-5513-8 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-6679-1
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018038702
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
In Spinelli's novel in verse, twelve-year-old Birdie's summer is disrupted by love. Her live-in grandmother tumbles for the new-senior-in-town; Birdie is on the verge of liking Scrabble pal Martin; and Birdie's widowed mother starts dating. The sorrows here are convincing but non-angsty, the families troubled but functional, the narrative voice charming but not too clever. This is classic middle grade, all the better for its old-fashioned flavor.
Kirkus Reviews
For at least one young girl, a small town is a good place to navigate early crushes and long-term grief.Twelve-year-old Birdie knows everything about birds. She doesn't quite want to be one anymore, as she did when she was little, but she still drops hairs from her hairbrush onto the lawn because "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." Mom and Birdie came to live with great-grandmother Maymee in tiny Hadley Falls (too small for a public library) three years ago, after Birdie's firefighter father was killed in the line of duty. The grief isn't fresh but it's ongoing—as are Maymee's eccentricity (she interrupts church to identify an attractive new older worshiper), the five shelves of "lending library" in a neighbor's pantry, and classmate Loretta's preparation to become a therapist by "seeing" neighborhood kids as clients. The adults are all good, the kids occasionally grumpy but kind, and the town safe for 12-year-olds to roam. Even the pains of an unrequited crush or a new man in Mom's life come with soft places to fall. Birdie's free-verse narration is thoughtful and unhurried, and although it's interior, it shows without telling. Birdie and her family seem white by default and cover art; absence of racial markers implies that everyone is white.A gentle look at daily beauty and at heartache that's not caused by anyone doing anything wrong. (Verse fiction. 9-12)
Publishers Weekly
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. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7 In this novel in verse, 12-year-old Roberta Briggs, called Birdie because of her love and knowledge of birds, is living with her mother and grandmother in a small Pennsylvania town, having moved there from Philadelphia three years before, following the line-of-duty death of her firefighter father. The pain of her loss has somewhat abated, and life is good, but things are changing: her best friend and Sunday Scrabble partner Martin is spending more and more time with a new girl in town, Nina; her grandmother has given up planning her own funeral in favor of a romantic relationship; and her mother's late arrivals home from work reveal a love interest Birdie is not ready to accept. She grapples with jealousy and resentment, but as new people enter her life, she comes to learn that love heals and that change can sometimes happen for the better. Humorous and poignant, Spinelli's lyrical writing, spot-on sense of small town life, and light touch make this a comforting and enjoyable read in an accessible format. VERDICT Exactly the kind of mild-conflict story parents seek for their preadolescents. Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Three years ago, after Birdie's father died, she and her mother moved to her great-grandmother Maymee's small town and into her home. Twelve-year-old Birdie still mourns for her father, but change is in the air. Previously preoccupied with planning her funeral, Maymee loses her heart to a man visiting relatives nearby. To Birdie's dismay, Mom starts dating, too. And even Birdie secretly longs for her best friend, Martin, to become her boyfriend, though he has a crush on another girl. For a while, every change seems wrong to Birdie, but gradually she gains perspective on the shifts within her circle of family and friends, sorting out the temporary, awkward, or painful changes from those that feel right as time passes. Birdie's fascination with birds is as integral to the storytelling as references to her father. Written with a light hand and from Birdie's point of view, this accessible, sometimes amusing narrative comes alive through its portrayal of characters. Spinelli sorts out the three love stories deftly, from Maymee, who knows she has no time to waste, to Mom, who's willing to take another chance, to Birdie, who's relieved when her agonizing emotional fever subsides, but who ultimately sees her future differently afterwards. An engaging, perceptive novel in verse.
Word Count: 15,169
Reading Level: 3.0
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.0 / points: 2.0 / quiz: 505344 / grade: Middle Grades
Lexile: 430L

Still grieving for her father, 12-year-old Birdie struggles to adjust to many changes, including when her grandmother, her mother, and her best friends all begin dating. With compelling verse and a lighthearted touch, Spinelli captures the poignancy of adolescence.

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