Chapter Books - Each Little Bird That Sings
Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles 2005
Let’s first start with a warning. Must have LARGE box of tissues handy when reading this book, or at the very least the conclusion. At first I wasn’t too sure about reading this story as still being in the grieving stage of my father’s passing, but I took a chance and fell in love with the book and all its characters. Wiles does a fabulous job on tackling the topic of death through the eyes of a ten year-old. We find that Comfort Snowberger’s family runs the local funeral home and has for decades. We also learn what is polite and impolite to say, do, and bring to a funeral, especially those typically held in the south. Normally, it is the Snowbergers that are the ones that serve and help soothe those dealing with death. However, the Snowbergers find themselves in the span of less than six months facing the loss of two of their own. Wiles expertly expresses how Comfort handles these deaths and the sudden changes that her “normal” life takes. In addition, Comfort must deal with her annoying cousin, Peaches and the alteration in her friendship with best friend, Declaration. Comfort’s life is literally rocked from so many events you are at times left wondering how much more a ten year-old can take.
Wiles does an excellent job in describing the events and procedures usually found with preparing for and conducting a funeral service. For those not familiar or have yet to experience the death of a close one, Wiles takes some of the mystery out of it and expresses the behind the scenes humanity we all hope exists in each situation. There are a number of characters and many are fully developed. The names used throughout the story are somewhat unusual, but I think it adds warmth to each character. Even though the subject matter is one that can be considered taboo, Wiles does a nice job in bringing it to an understandable level and weaves a believable and readable story around it. This is not something everyone would want to pick up, but I think the target audience of 8 to 12 year-olds will enjoy it. Wiles also adds quite a bit of humorous character traits that help gloss over the serious side an adult would focus on. One such ingredient would be Comfort’s Top Ten Tips for First-rate Funeral Behavior, very, very funny stuff.
Another review for this book, which is much more succinct, can also be found over at BookPage. Wiles is also the author of Love, Ruby Lavender, which has won numerous awards. And one last note, which is a spoiler, if you hate to see a writer kill the beloved pet, be forewarned, not only does Comfort's dog Dismay die, but it is a sad, sad death.