June 26, 2007

Each Little Bird that Sings - by Deborah Wiles

You may guess that a book about a girl named Comfort Snowberger and her dog, Dismay, who live in a funeral parlor would be a little strange. If so you'd be right, but in the best way imaginable. In this charming Southern story, the author introduces us to a cast of characters, mainly Comfort's family and friends, who are each portrayed richly and imaginatively, and a town that seems to come alive as you read. Comfort and her family run the local cemetery and funeral parlor in Snapfinger, Mississippi, and they have a hand in every death that happens in the area. Because of this, Comfort has become very comfortable with the idea of death, at least until her favorite great-great-Aunt Florentine passes away in the family's vegetable garden at the age of 94. While she is dealing with the loss of her beloved aunt, Comfort has some death-defying adventures, loses and finds a best friend, is forced to spend a lot of time with her annoying younger cousin, Peach, and finally learns a thing or two about life, and about death, all from the places you'd least expect.

This seems like a novel about death, and in a way it is. In another way, though, it is entirely about life and how wonderful it is. Don't worry, it's not a depressing book (though there are a few weepy parts), and it's not all about dead people, even though it takes place in a funeral home. This book reminds me of Richard Peck's funny novels, except young readers will like this one better, I'm positive. Each Little Bird is ideal for readers who enjoy adventure, drama, dogs, great character description, and really wonderful, bright writing.