March 2005

Love and loss at the funeral home

By Deborah Wiles
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It's not every day that the intricacies of funerals and funeral homes are center stage in a book for young people. Ten-year-old Comfort Snowberger has attended 247 funerals, all at her family's funeral home. She knows what to wear, how to act, but mostly, she, along with all the other members of the Snowberger clan, knows how to serve others.

Deborah Wiles, author of Love, Ruby Lavender, brings young readers another family they will not soon forget in Each Little Bird That Sings. From the smell that encircles her father after he embalms the deceased, to the proper arrangement of the flowers, to picking up her little sister Merry from her nap in a casket in the downstairs casket room, Comfort's loving family serves their community with skill and care. Their lives are defined by death. When great-great-aunt Florentine dies, the family is faced with a loss that challenges even the most experienced funeral professional.

Comfort has to call on all her resources for surviving sadness as she faces the death and funeral of Aunt Florentine. Her dramatic and adoring cousin Peach becomes her challenging weekend assignment. If he isn't bawling uncontrollably, he is trying to do everything with his beloved cousin Comfort. If that is not enough, her best friend in the world chooses this time to ally herself with a different group of girls older and more sophisticated ones. And just when Comfort gets through the funeral, she is faced with a loss that is bigger than any she has had to face before.

Though the plethora of unusual names (Comfort, Tidings, Declaration and even Eggs Florentine) threatens at times to overwhelm the story, Wiles has a gift for bringing readers into the hearts and minds of her main characters. Comfort wants to be the perfect daughter and friend, but she is just a confused 10-year-old who loves her dog, enjoys writing, plays outdoors and does not want anything to change in her life. As she faces the changes that life throws her way, Comfort grabs onto the reader's heart and refuses to let it go.

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Each Little Bird That Sings

Each Little Bird That Sings

By Deborah Wiles
ISBN 9780152051136

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