Whistling for Angela by Robin Heald, illustrated by Peggy Collins. Pajama Press, 2022. 9781772782455
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Genre: Realistic picture book
What did you like about the book? Daniel and his family are preparing for a new baby. He decides to learn to whistle as a gift for the baby, because he loves songbirds and their sounds. He blows and puffs and pants, but no whistle comes out. At the adoption center, the family is excited to meet four month old baby Angela, their new baby. They even meet her birth mother, Jessie, who also like birds as much as Daniel. When baby Angela starts to fuss, Daniel’s whistle finally come out and she stops her crying. Their time at the adoption center is bittersweet, because, although the family is thrilled to have their baby, Jessie is clearly very sad, and gives the family a letter to eventually give to Angela, expressing her love. At the end, it’s clear that they have an ongoing relationship with Jessie, who is shown moving into a college dorm room.
This sweet look at the constructive and loving relationship between parties in an ‘adoption triangle’ may not be the norm, as is mentioned in an author’s note at the end, but it helps to explain ‘why’ and ‘how’ to an expectant sibling. I think it’s an important story to be told, and it echoes the author’s experience when adopting her own daughter. Sharing the birth mother’s letter to the child she is giving up is a critical piece for helping kids – siblings and adoptees – understand the complex reasons for giving up a child. Daniel’s love of birds, which coincidentally is shared by Jessie, is a nice touch that binds the family with her. Digital art shows a white family and birth mother.
Anything you didn’t like about it? The art seems overly enlarged on several spreads.
To whom would you recommend this book? For ages 4-8 and their families, especially when experiencing an adoption.
Who should buy this book? Day care centers, elementary school and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Picture books/parenting collections
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: March 28, 2022