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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
A Song for Birdie: A Child's Journey with Autism is a social issues story book for children written and illustrated by Cindy Shirley. Birdie Williams was in the second grade now, and her teacher, Mrs. Andrews, wanted to speak with her parents. Birdie wasn’t really interested in what Mrs. Andrews was talking about, but she took the note her teacher gave her and handed it to her mom when she picked her up from school. Birdie’s mom knew her daughter was upset; she watched as Birdie lowered her head, covered her ears with her hands and began to hum and to tap her foot. She and her husband discussed their daughter’s situation in school that night and attended the conference with Mrs. Andrews several days later. Birdie found lots of things to look at as the adults were speaking. She made a tally of the number of square tiles on the floor and had fun visualizing animal shapes and patterns. This was so much more interesting than what the grownups had to say. Mrs. Andrews suggested putting Birdie in the school’s special ed program, and her parents agreed. By the time Birdie got home, she had no interest at all in ever going back to school again, but then something wonderful happened.
Cindy Shirley’s social issues story book for children, A Song for Birdie: A Child's Journey with Autism, is a moving and insightful look at how a child on the autism spectrum sees her world. As I read this story, I also considered counting squares and visualizing fantastical creatures to be far more interesting than listening to the adults discussing her inability to pay attention and preference for doodling. Seeing Birdie’s instant rapport with the little bird that perches on the window the next morning is mesmerizing and magical. I loved seeing how that connection with another being seems to provide a link for Birdie with the world. Her bird and the new teacher, Miss Amy, go so far to help Birdie explore her skills and abilities and to interact with others. A Song for Birdie is a marvelous tool for parents, caregivers and educators of children on the spectrum. It’s also a useful way for children who have autistic peers to gain insights into their behavior, gifts and needs. A Song for Birdie: A Child's Journey with Autism is most highly recommended.