Helen’s Birds

Helen’s Birds

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

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 fourteen children’s books. Her books have been selected for the Junior Library Guild and as finalists for the Chocolate Lily Award, the Bolen Books Children’s Book Prize, the Rocky Mountain Book Award, the Diamond Willow Award, the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award, the Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award and the Silver Birch Express Award. She has won a National Magazine Award (Gold). 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.

Commended, Globe 100 List, 2019

Commended, OLA Best Bets, 2019

Praise for Sara Cassidy, Sophie Casson and Helen's Birds:

Globe 100 List, 2019

OLA Best Bets, 2019

Included in the Globe and Mail’s list of Ten not-to-be-missed Canadian picture books that will delight young readers

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

“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 & Quire

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

Praise for Sara Cassidy and A Boy Named Queen:

“A small eloquent book with a powerful message.” — Kirkus, starred review

“This is a book of gentle nudges that could open some minds as well as some possibility for discussion.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Praise for Sara Cassidy and The Great Googlini (Orca):

“A thoughtful glimpse into the life of an immigrant family.” — Kirkus, starred review

“A thoughtful, touching story.” — CM Magazine

Praise for Shane Peacock, Sophie Casson and The Artist and Me (Owlkids):

“Low-key yet powerful… simple, resonant, superb.” — Kirkus, starred review

“Beautifully and sparsely written, as well as vividly illustrated… makes its point quite eloquently.” — Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

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