Friday, November 04, 2005

Each Little Bird That Sings - Deborah Wiles

For Comfort Snowberger, dis a way of life as her family runs a funeral parlour from their Mississippi home; motto: "We live to serve." However, when Comfort's 94-year-old Great-great-aunt Florentine Snowberger dies in the vegetable garden, she discovers that no one is ever really prepared for death, even though Florentine has been bidding "good night and good-bye" to the family at bedtime every night since her 90th birthday. For 10 year old Comfort, Florentine's death is particularly hard because the two had been very close, they even co-wrote 'Fantastic (and Fun) Funeral Food for Family and Friends'. The irritatingly over-wrought emotional displays of her young cousin, Peach Shuggars, and the sudden iciness of her former best friend, Declaration Johnson, combine with Florentine's death to send Comfort over the edge. Only her shaggy dog, Dismay, who can eradicate all bad feelings with a single slobbery lick, can save her. And then a flash flood comes to the town of Snapfinger on the day of Florentine's funeral; Comfort learns that life is full of surprises, some good and some bad, but she also learns that it's just good to be alive.

Some of the names in this book are frankly bizarre and I had to keep reminding myself (initially) that they were people and not drinks ! However I got into the book quite quickly and raced through it. I confess to being cynical at the outset - I had got the impression initially that this was some sort of dreadful "bibliotherapy" book: written specifically to give to a child who was bereaved. I was relieved to discover this was nothing of the sort, and delighted by the characters of Comfort and Dismay, and Comfort's cousin Peach (whom I confess I had expected to be a girl !)

The development of the relationship between Comfort and Peach from her utter dislike of his weeping and wailing, on to the burgeoning of his inner strength was fascinating... And I finished the book feeling that Comfort's disagreement with Declaration was not so much resolved as on hold for now.

I am not ashamed to admit that Deborah Wiles' book made me weep in several places. However, I would not give it to bereaved child - I'd give it to them before they were bereaved or long afterwards.


Kelly said...

Oh, I see your opinion on giving the books to kids here on your blog. I think I agree with you.

Michele said...

I had to think about that first sentence ! :-D I guess you're referring back to a question you asked me over on Chicken-Spaghetti ?