Birdie’s Bargain by Katherine Patterson

Birdie’s Bargain by Katherine Patterson. Candlewick Press, 2021. 9781536215595

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

Format: Hardcover

Genre:  Realistic fiction

What did you like about the book? Birdie’s life is getting more aggravating by the day.  It is bad enough that she has to move away from all her friends, but to live with Gran, start in a new fifth grade class, sleep in a room the size of a closet…it’s all just too much.  Birdie’s dad is off fighting in Iraq for the third time and she worries about whether he will make it home safely.  To this end, she makes a bargain with God, something she learned about in Bible camp.  As she gets settled, she meets new kids, especially outgoing Alicia, who seems to be working through some problems of her own.  Set in a quiet residential neighborhood walking distance from school, Alicia and her parents are new to the neighborhood.  Should Birdie befriend her and alienate herself from the other kids at school or should she try to honor her bargain with God? Short chapters with themes of friendship and independence may resonate true with young readers.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Not a negative, but Birdie’s inner dialogues do have a strong religious theme.  For readers unfamiliar with Catholicism this could be a challenge.  Mom and Gran seem a little two-dimensional and ignorant of much of what is happening with Birdie.  

To whom would you recommend this book? Readers, in grades 3 to 6, who are looking for realistic fiction with a religious theme or books like Are You There God, It’s me Margaret, may enjoy this title.  

Who should buy this book? This would be a good purchase for upper elementary or public libraries that cannot get enough realistic fiction with female protagonists and religious undertones.

Where would you shelve it ? Realistic fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? I feel that this title would reside near the middle of the “to read” pile.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Elena Schuck, Nathaniel H. Wixon School Library, Dennis, Massachusetts

Date of review: December 5, 2021

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