Book Reviews

So many books. So little time.

The Magpie Song by Laurence Anholt

City lights, country lights. The old and the young. Grandpa and granddaughter. The Magpie Song is a study in contrasts, but it so much more. It is a story of how people can connect despite the difference in time and place and age and interest. A story that will bring succor to the generation that feels left behind by the technological advancement, distanced from their grandchildren.

How often have you heard them say, "My grandchildren will get bored in my company." Here is a story that shows them differently. Isn't it strange that books "written for children" carry messages that reverberate across generations? This is one such book.

The first spread shows Carla looking out the window at the "million orange lights below" because she can't sleep. Her letter to grandpa describes that, and all the sounds of the city. She asks him about the country. "Will you write to me someday?"

Grandpa replies. Sometimes he can't sleep either, but its not the noise rather the silence that keeps him awake. "When my eyes get used to the dark, I see the whole sky is full of stars." Noise and silence. City light, country lights. Same but different.

Now Carla and grandpa correspond regularly. Carla shares her school problems, grandpa offers comfort and advice. "If the work you do at school is like the letters you write to me, then you must be smart."

"Everyone can do something well."

The author draws beautiful analogies. "The white as the pages of a book. They tell you the whole story of the night before, if you know how to read them." What a very descriptive sentence.

Whenever I step into the woods now, I'll remember to read them, as trackers do, and naturalists and researchers. And as Grandpa is teaching Carla.

Title: The Magpie Song

Author: Laurence Anholt

Illustrator: Dan Williams

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin


ISBN: 9780395752807