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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Not all homes are happy places to raise a child. Parents make promises to protect their young ones, but they don’t always follow through with their promises. That’s what happened to Phil. His parents made a promise never to hurt him, but they did. Phil was a very sad little boy. He spoke out to the only creature who would listen, who might understand – the little bird at the window. The bird listens intently, but all he can say in response is ‘chirp.’ Perhaps all anyone can do really is listen and care.
Michael A. Brown’s picture book story, They Said They’d Never…, is a touching, heart-wrenching story about broken promises and child abuse. The story is told from the perspective of the little bird, who listens as he shares the story with another bird. The two birds communicate, their dialogue appearing in bubbles to identify which bird is speaking. The colorful illustrations are bold and clearly lead the plot forward. The reader will instantly feel compassion for the sad boy leaning on the windowsill, sharing his plight with the only one who will listen – the little bird. This is a difficult story to read, but one that will resonate with many. The author concludes with a chart, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which clearly outlines what all humans need for a happy, contented, and positive life. The point is evident in this chart and delivered too by the little bird to his partner: “They won’t do differently until they learn differently to teach differently so Phil can live differently.”