View teachers' guides for 20+ books about and by Indigenous Peoples in North America

Groundwood Books

Helen’s Birds

Illustrated by Sophie Casson • Written by Sara Cassidy

For readers 7 - 10 years old | Published September 01, 2019 | ISBN 9781773060385
JUVENILE FICTION / Comics & Graphic Novels / General

Cover of Helen’s Birds

Regular price $18.95 CAD

44 pages | 9.75 in × 8.25 in
Print Format

About this book

Helen’s Birds

Sophie Casson • Sara Cassidy

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.

About the Creators

Sophie Casson

Sophie Casson has illustrated a number of children’s books, including The Artist and Me by Shane Peacock, a finalist for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, and Quelle pagaille! by Danielle Marcotte and Laurence-Aurélie Théroux-Marcotte, a finalist for the Governor General’s Award. 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 many international publications, including 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. sophiecasson.com

Sara Cassidy

Sara Cassidy is a journalist and editor and the author of ten novels for young readers, including A Boy Named Queen. Her books have been selected for the Junior Library Guild, and she has been a finalist 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 also won a National Magazine Award (Gold) for a piece in Today’s Parent. She lives in Victoria.

Awards and Praise

Praise for A Boy Named Queen by Sara Cassidy

* “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 The Great Googlini by Sara Cassidy (Orca)

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

“A thoughtful, touching story.” CM Magazine

Praise for The Artist and Me by Shane Peacock, illustrated by Sophie Casson (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