Helen's Birds

Helen's Birds

Written by: Cassidy, Sara
Illustrated by: Casson, Sophie
ages 6 to 9 / grades 1 to 4

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From Sara Cassidy, acclaimed author of A Boy Named Queen, comes a stunning wordless graphic novel about friendship, loss and hope.

For as long as Saanvi can remember, she has been friends with her elderly neighbor Helen. They play cards and garden together and, especially, care for the wild birds that visit Helen’s yard. When Helen dies suddenly, a “For Sale” sign goes up, and movers arrive, emptying the house of its furniture and stripping the yard of its birdfeeders. The sparrows and hummingbirds disappear.

Soon a bulldozer tears down Helen’s house. All winter, Saanvi walks numbly past the property as developers begin to build condos. Then one spring day, amid the dust and turmoil of construction, she finds a weathered playing card wedged between two rocks. She holds it to her chest, and finally sobs.

After a tearful night, Saanvi wakes inspired. She slathers peanut butter on pinecones to hang from tree branches, hammers together a birdhouse from scrap wood and drags a kitchen stool outside to hold a bowl of water. Finally, she retrieves a nest that has been unraveling on Helen’s old property and places it in a tree in her own yard. Saanvi’s yard soon fills with Helen’s birds. They have a home again.

This beautifully illustrated, wordless graphic novel shows Saanvi’s journey through close friendship, then hollowing loss and change, until she finally finds hope.

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.1
Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

From Sara Cassidy, acclaimed author of A Boy Named Queen, comes a stunning wordless graphic novel about friendship, loss and hope.

For as long as Saanvi can remember, she has been friends with her elderly neighbor Helen. They play cards and garden together and, especially, care for the wild birds that visit Helen’s yard. When Helen dies suddenly, a “For Sale” sign goes up, and movers arrive, emptying the house of its furniture and stripping the yard of its birdfeeders. The sparrows and hummingbirds disappear.

Soon a bulldozer tears down Helen’s house. All winter, Saanvi walks numbly past the property as developers begin to build condos. Then one spring day, amid the dust and turmoil of construction, she finds a weathered playing card wedged between two rocks. She holds it to her chest, and finally sobs.

After a tearful night, Saanvi wakes inspired. She slathers peanut butter on pinecones to hang from tree branches, hammers together a birdhouse from scrap wood and drags a kitchen stool outside to hold a bowl of water. Finally, she retrieves a nest that has been unraveling on Helen’s old property and places it in a tree in her own yard. Saanvi’s yard soon fills with Helen’s birds. They have a home again.

This beautifully illustrated, wordless graphic novel shows Saanvi’s journey through close friendship, then hollowing loss and change, until she finally finds hope.

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.1
Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

Published By Groundwood Books Ltd — Sep 1, 2019
Specifications 44 pages | 8.25 in x 9.75 in
Written By

SARA CASSIDY is a journalist, editor and the author of twenty children’s books. Her books have won the Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize and been Junior Library Guild selections. They have been nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award in Young People's Literature, Chocolate Lily Award, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award, Diamond Willow Award, Silver Birch Express Award and the Sunburst Award. Sara lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

Illustrated by

SOPHIE CASSON has illustrated The Artist and Me by Shane Peacock, a finalist for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, Quelle pagaille! by Danielle Marcotte and Laurence-Aurélie Théroux-Marcotte, a finalist for the Governor General’s Award, and Helen’s Birds by Sara Cassidy. Her highly acclaimed illustrations are inspired by Japanese woodblock prints and World War II–era posters. Sophie’s award-winning work has also appeared in the Globe and Mail, the New York Times, Financial Times, Los Angeles Times and Nature, as well as in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Sophie lives in Montreal, Quebec.

Written By

SARA CASSIDY is a journalist, editor and the author of twenty children’s books. Her books have won the Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize and been Junior Library Guild selections. They have been nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award in Young People's Literature, Chocolate Lily Award, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award, Diamond Willow Award, Silver Birch Express Award and the Sunburst Award. Sara lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

Illustrated by

SOPHIE CASSON has illustrated The Artist and Me by Shane Peacock, a finalist for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, Quelle pagaille! by Danielle Marcotte and Laurence-Aurélie Théroux-Marcotte, a finalist for the Governor General’s Award, and Helen’s Birds by Sara Cassidy. Her highly acclaimed illustrations are inspired by Japanese woodblock prints and World War II–era posters. Sophie’s award-winning work has also appeared in the Globe and Mail, the New York Times, Financial Times, Los Angeles Times and Nature, as well as in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Sophie lives in Montreal, Quebec.

Audience ages 6 to 9 / grades 1 to 4
Reading Levels Lexile NP
Common Core CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.1

Commended, Globe 100 List, 2019

Commended, OLA Best Bets, 2019

“A moving testimony to the process of navigating abrupt, painful change—and the life-altering impact of true friendship” —Kirkus Reviews

“[The graphic novel format] creates a comforting clarity and clear path for readers, even in the midst of a shocking and unexpected loss.” —Quill and Quire

“This story of intergenerational friendship [is] told with warmth and realism …” —Booklist

“Equally heartbreaking and encouraging, this moving look at meaningful friendship offers valuable honesty and insight.” —Horn Book