Birdsong by Katya Balen truly offers a treat for all readers lucky enough to follow the story of our young protagonist Annie, as she is thrust suddenly into a life unknown. We meet Annie as she moves from her home to a new flat in the suburban jungle, as she and her mother recover from a car crash that recently threw their lives into turbulence.
Annie was once a promising musician who now battles her own fear and paralysis with her former instrument - the flute - yet through her own musical silence she relishes and finds comfort in the music of the ordinary; the sounds and songs of the new world around her. She soon meets Noah, who introduces her to the blackbirds, who teach her more than she could imagine about grief, loss, and healing. Through her interactions with the birds who live in a bush close to her apartment, she finds beauty in the inevitability of music and nature to help heal and grow.
Richard Johnson’s dreamy illustrations compliment perfectly the simple language that Balen expertly laces together in perfect composition. The illustrations are cosy and magical escapes from the otherwise ordinary world that Annie inhabits, and each sentence is a crafted symphony, bringing the darker components of the book - the crash itself and the turmoil that followed - to readers in ways non-threatening or overwhelming. The descriptions within this book really are sure to make you smile, as is the story, in all of its beauty, softness, and simplicity.