Birds on Wishbone Street by Suzanne Del Rizzo. Pajama Press, 2021. 9781772782196
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3
Genre: Picture book
What did you like about the book? In the happy neighborhood of Wishbone Street, residents from countries around the world come together in a supportive and engaged community. Maureen (Moe) knows that her grandfather came to Toronto from Ireland, carrying his pet bird in a hollowed-out radio. She’s also a bird lover and makes friends with Sami, a new arrival from Syria, who proves his avian bona-fides when the two children find and rescue a stressed female cardinal. Wishbone Street is populated by people from many ethnic and language groups, features neighbors using wheelchairs, and also has a female veterinarian. Del Rizzo is a wizard with polymer clay and uses the medium exclusively for her illustrations. She is especially successful at conveying texture: the thick, braided warmth of the green mittens and hat that Moe gives to Sami, the leafy branches of neighborhood trees, the plush softness of the favorite blanket the children use to wrap the bird, and the delicate intricacies of the birds’ feathers. Back matter includes a recipe for bird suet treats and directions for making winter roosting pockets. Detailed endpapers open with a divided collection box filled with Moe’s special things (made by her dad) and close with one that Moe makes for Sami, filled with his treasures.
Anything you didn’t like about it? I didn’t read the first book (My Beautiful Birds) but think that reading them together would be useful and hopefully supply helpful background information on the characters. One illustration shows a bluebird flying through a snowy scene, but I would be surprised to see this bird during a Toronto winter! Although I liked the depictions of the natural world and inanimate objects, I felt the polymer clay renderings of humans were less successful.
To whom would you recommend this book? Children ages 5-8 who love birds and want some ideas for hands-on activities to support them. This cozy tale of neighborly kindness may be useful as a read aloud for families or in the classroom setting.
Who should buy this book? Public libraries
Where would you shelve it? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: September 3, 2021