I’m always thrilled to discover a hidden gem on the Top 100 Chapter Books list and I’ve found another one — Each Little Bird That Sings (2005) by Deborah Wiles. It definitely deserves to be higher than number 71. It’s only ten years old though so there’s still time for it to gain in popularity.
What it’s about: Comfort Snowberger at ten years old is already well-versed in death. Her family owns Snowbergers’ Funeral Home and so it’s her family’s business to take care of the dead of Snapfinger, Mississippi. As it turns out, dealing with the dead is actually easier than dealing with the living, especially friends who are untrue.
Age level: Grades 4-6
Best character: Comfort Snowberger — she is an incredible kid, not flawless but able to find redemption once she figures out which are the things that really matter in life.
Worst character: Declaration Johnson — because the worst bully is the one that used to be your friend.
I’ve never read a book that dealt with death in such a straight-forward and thoughtful way. I think if I had read a book like this as a kid, I would have had a better understanding of death and grief thanks to Comfort and her “Life Notices” (she writes positive, friendly obituaries that never get published in the small local paper because they’re not “just the facts”). Just a warning though — there is a major pet trauma toward the end of the story that may be a bit much for sensitive young ones (or me, apparently). Still, it wasn’t enough to dampen my enthusiasm for this fantastic story.
After a little time off for spring break (yay!), my 40th birthday (boo!), and Read-a-thon (double yay!), I’ll be back with an umpteenth reread of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. If you’ve never read it, join me. It’ll be fun!