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Each Little Bird That Sings Paperback – August 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 6
  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (August 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152056572
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152056575
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Death is a way of life for the Snowberger family, since they run a funeral parlor out of their Mississippi home with the motto "We live to serve." Still, when 94-year-old Great-great-aunt Florentine Snowberger dies in the vegetable garden, no one can truly be prepared, even though she'd been bidding "good night and good-bye" to the family every night since she turned 90. Florentine's death is hard on 10-year-old Comfort, since the two were so close, even co-writing the Fantastic (and Fun) Funeral Food for Family and Friends. It's no surprise, then, when the annoyingly overwrought emotional displays of her young cousin Peach Shuggars and the sudden iciness of her alleged best friend Declaration Johnson send Comfort over the edge. Thank goodness for her shaggy "feel-good" dog Dismay who can eradicate all bad feelings with a single slobbery lick.

When a dangerous flash flood comes to Snapfinger on the day of Florentine's funeral, Comfort learns again that life is full of surprises, good and bad, and that, ultimately, it's just good to be alive. This warm, witty novel, told in Comfort's voice (and a mix of letters, recipes, articles, and helpful hints), celebrates the joys of family, of prune bread, of freshly sharpened pencils, and of "each little bird that sings." The fairly constant philosophizing about life and death, the unusual character names (Tidings, Comfort, Joy), and the narrator's oft-precocious voice may fray a nerve or two, but readers will find more than enough humor and good old-fashioned storytelling here to make up for it. (Ages 8 to 12) --Karin Snelson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-6–"I come from a family with a lot of dead people." So begins this narrative by 10-year-old Comfort Snowberger, who prides herself on taking death in stride–after all, her family owns and operates the funeral parlor in the small town of Snapfinger, MS. Then loss hits closer to home, first with the death of Great-uncle Edisto and, a few months later, with Great-great-aunt Florentine. During a storm on the way to the cemetery, flooding causes an accident involving Comfort; her irritating, emotional cousin, Peach; and her beloved dog, Dismay, who drowns. Interspersed throughout is the story of the girl's changing relationship with her friend Declaration Johnson, who seems to be dropping her. Comfort writes and submits "Life Notices" (as opposed to Death Notices) to the Aurora County News, along with such items as her "Top Ten Tips for First-rate Funeral Behavior" ("This is not a good time to remind the family that the deceased owes you money"), and, for friends, a recipe or two. Sensitive, funny, and occasionally impatient, Comfort is a wholly sympathetic protagonist who learns that emotions may not be as easy to control as she had assumed. While the book is a bit too long and some of the Southern eccentricity wears thin, this is a deeply felt novel.–Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

She is a wonderful narrator for this story.
Julie Peterson
When you grow up in a funeral home like Comfort Snowberger has, you have a healthy understanding of death.
E. R. Bird
Overall, I'd highly recommend this book to young adults and even adults to share reading with them.
William Capodanno

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 52 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
May contain spoilers.

The other day I was speaking to a employee of the publishing house of Harcourt, Inc. We chatted about this and that but eventually I had to ask. What, in this employee's opinion, was Harcourt's best bet for the 2006 Newbery Award? I was told that word on the street was that people were all ah-buzz over author Deborah Wiles', "Each Little Bird That Sings". I had not heard of this book myself. Despite the fact that I am a children's librarian, and despite the fact that the book was sitting easy-peasy on my bookshelf, I hadn't thus far deigned to take it down and give it a look-see. In doing so I saw all sorts of things that could make it an award winner. Death, good writing, and a dog who shuffles off this mortal coil. But beyond the obvious depressing aspects, Wiles shocked me with the quality of the book. It's peppered with folksy wisdom and tidbits of advice about "life", but never in a way that feels like the author's laying it on too thick. "Each Little Bird That Sings" is a delicate balancing act between humor and pain and solid sensible advice for getting through an uneasy world.

When you grow up in a funeral home like Comfort Snowberger has, you have a healthy understanding of death. And within a single year Comfort's Great-great-aunt Florentine and Great-uncle Edisto have joined the choir invisible. When Edisto died the funeral would have been beautiful had it not been for Comfort's scrawny, big-eyed, unable-to-quite-grasp-the-concept-of-dying, seven-year-old cousin Peach. Peach managed to faint into a punch bowl, throw up, scream, and generally (in Comfort's eyes) make a nuisance of himself. Now Florentine's funeral is coming up and Peach is in Comfort's life again.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Betty L. Dravis VINE VOICE on January 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I liked this book because it deals with the subject of "death" in such an unusual way ... with a lot of facts and even some humor.

Little Comfort is the daughter of funeral home owners and is rather nonchalant about death, having seen it so often, but when it strikes close to home and she has to deal with it on a personal level she learns much more about life ... death ... and how the loved ones left behind must deal with it.

Comfort is a lovable, charming, caring girl who comes up with some unique remedies to ease the pain.

This is a heartfelt book ... one that teaches children about death in a sensitive way. At times it's even humorous ... which must have been quite a challenge for this talented author.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on June 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"Remember that death is a natural thing --- it's all around us...Don't try to hide death from kids... Kids are better at death than grown-ups give them credit for...."

From the 2004 PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship winner and author of LOVE, RUBY LAVENDER --- an ALA Notable Children's Book, a Children's Book Sense 76 Pick, a Parent's Guide Children's Media Award Winner, and a New York Public Library Book for Reading and Sharing --- comes a touching tearjerker for young readers about coming to terms with death and remembering to appreciate life in all its capacities. With a slicing candor that is at times hard to stomach yet crucial to the book's overall resonance, Deborah Wiles has penned a second novel that will hit readers through the heart.

Ten-year-old Comfort Snowberger's family owns and runs the town funeral home in Snapfinger, Mississippi. In her short life, Comfort has attended 247 funerals and has taken part in everything from helping to bake the casseroles for the guests to writing her own version of the newspaper's obituary column, "Life Notices by Comfort Snowberger: Explorer, Recipe Tester, and Funeral Reporter." Along with her brother Tidings, her parents, her best friend Declaration, Great-uncle Edisto, Great-great-aunt Florentine, and her dog Dismay, Comfort does her utmost to keep everyone's spirits up under what are oftentimes the dourest of circumstances.

Life runs smoothly in the Snowberger household until the day when Great-uncle Edisto has a stroke and dies. A short while later, Great-great-aunt Florentine takes a tumble in the garden and dies as well, peacefully sprawled out amidst the lavender.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amanda M. Lee on February 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
"I come from a family with a lot of dead people." That is a very true statement from the main character, Comfort Snowberger (or as she calls herself, an Explorer, a Recipe Taster, and a Funeral Reporter). Her family runs a funeral home, and she's had a lot of incidents happen lately. Her Uncle Edisto dies, and most recently, her Great-great-aunt Florentine suddenly wares out. The only thing that comfort can rely on is her shaggy black dog Dismay. Comfort is feeling very lonely and feels like she doesn't know what to do. Then everything seems to go even more downhill from there.

This realistic fiction book teaches the importance of love and friendship. It proves how close-knit a family can be. Deborah Wiles has written a previous book to this, Love Ruby Lavender, but it isn't a sequel or a prequel. I though this book was all right. It was a little too strange for my taste, but it was still pretty good.

Each Little Bird That Sings was an interesting book. I preferred Deborah's other book, Love Ruby Lavender. The book to me was a little too sad for me, but the love in the book was so powerful. This would be a good book for girls, ages 8 to 12, who enjoy a little sadness.

-Anna Hurdle
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