________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 5 . . . .October 27, 2006


Abby’s Birds.

Ellen Schwartz. Illustrated by Sima Elizabeth Shefrin.
Vancouver, BC: Tradewind Books, 2006.
32 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 1-896580-86-6.

Kindergarten-grade 2 / Ages 5-7.

Review by Deborah Pethrick.

**½ /4

Reviewed from f&g’s.


Abby's Birds is about the relationship between a young girl who moves into a house which is next door to an elderly woman. While exploring her backyard at the new house, Abby meets her neighbour, Mrs. Naka.

"I am Mrs. Naka."

"I'm Abby."

"How do you do, Abby?"

"Are you my new neighbour?"

"No, you are my new neighbour. I have lived here a lifetime."

"Are you old?"

"Very old."

Mrs. Naka smiled. Her face crinkled like tree bark.

internal art     As the friendship between the two unfolds, they follow the progress of a robin family that has nested in a maple tree their yards share. From the hatching of the babies, to the death of one and the young robins’ learning to fly, Abby and Mrs. Naka become closer. During their bird watching, Mrs. Naka teaches Abby to make tori-origami birds.

      One evening, Mrs. Naka has a fall and breaks her hip. Abby runs outside to see the attendants taking her elderly friend to an ambulance. After telling Abby she won't be home soon, Mrs. Naka promises she will come home—for Abby, their tree and the birds.

      While Mrs. Naka is in hospital, Abby practices her paper folding and makes birds of all colors and design. The summer fades, the leaves fall from the trees, and the robins fly away. Sad that Mrs. Naka has missed these happenings, on the day Mrs. Naka is to return home, Abby takes all her folded papers out to the tree and fills the tree with tori.

"Mrs. Naka, you're home!"...

"The birds flew away."Abby told her.

Mrs. Haka sighed."No more birds until spring."

"Come see!"

     Abby then takes Mrs. Naka to the tree and shows her the flock of tori.

      The artwork, done in a collage style, mixes bright multi-textured paper in keeping with the origami theme, but I found that, when I read the story to Grade 1/2 classrooms, the illustration style was not popular with them. The back of the dust jacket gives instructions on how to make origami birds.

      Abby's Birds, written simply yet descriptively, is a good read aloud which illustrates that kindness and friendship have no age barriers.


Deborah Pethrick, a Library Technician in St. George School, a K-9 school, is forever reading to keep up with the students.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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