It’s Noah’s feet that Annie sees first. However the feet lead her to a hidden wonder. She’s already heard the Birdsong, but suddenly she’s invited to share a secret. It seems that Noah’s guarding a blackbird pair, preparing for eggs. Can Noah and Annie keep watch over the would- be family, guarding them from all dangers?

Then again, might what Annie discovers be more than the nature that’s revealed to her? Might it inspire her to return to the music she loves? After all, she’s a gifted flautist, who’d planned to apply to the prestigious Greengage Music School before the accident. Now, with the move and the trauma, Annie cannot touch her flute, and surrenders the application to the blackbirds.

Birdsong is a beautiful, poignant, empathetic novella. Bookwagon loves its truths, the setting and the friendship we realise between Annie and Noah. What’s more, we love how there’s such thoughtful time keeping in this book, so that we are invited to be party to Annie’s healing, and her discovery too.

Birdsong is created in a dyslexia friendly format.

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Katya Balen, illustrated by Richard Johnson

(Barrington Stoke)

The accident didn’t only mean a new home for Annie and her Mum, moving to a flat high up in the city, but the loss of a dream. The crash damaged Annie’s arm and put paid to her hopes of applying to the Greengage Music School. Annie hears music in everything about her. What’s more, she’s a devoted flautist with a need to develop her skill. However, the accident changed everything.
Yet what if the move offers something different, away from the gloom of what’s happened? Might Noah reveal the blackbird couple that he feeds with mealworms, whose nest he guards through the season? Is it possible that by learning about, hearing and feeling the blackbird song, Annie might be drawn away from her nightmare? Or could it be that the birds offer her a way out? After all, by abandoning her composition pages to the birds’ nesting, she no longer has to face her failure. Does she?
Birdsong is a pitch perfect novella. Award winning novelist Katya Balen draws us into Annie’s world, her fears and sorrows, thoughts and impulses. What’s more, it feels as though we can hear the revelation offered by the blackbirds, too, Like Gill Lewis’s Swan Song, Birdsong is a call to nature, healing and hope.



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