Shortlisted for the 2022 Mrs. Dunster's Award for Fiction
Corbin Hayes has felt alone for as long as he can remember. His mom’s illness means lost jobs, constant moves, new schools and friendships that never get to grow. There’s a gap in his life that’s been waiting to be filled.
So, when a classmate offers Corbin the talking bird she can no longer keep, he’s stoked.
But when things begin to spiral out of control, Corbin can no longer get his mom – or himself – through the dark period. At his lowest moment, he’s forced to do the one thing he fears the most.
Valerie Sherrard is an award-winning author of picture books and young adult novels. Her novel The Glory Wind won the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction and the Ann Connor Brimer Award. Her works have been chosen as Red Maple and White Pine Award Honour Books and she has been nominated for Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Awards, and Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Awards. Born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, she now lives in Miramichi, New Brunswick.
“Birdspell is a deep and beautifully written title that once begun is hard to put down. Despite the tragedy of the circumstances, the novel is a compelling story of strength, hope and compassion. Highly Recommended. ”
“An extremely good middle-grader read, Birdspell truly had me engrossed from page one. A serious mental health issue, a single-parent household and a young boy called upon to live by his wits during his mother’s ups and downs, there is no shortage of drama in Corbin’s life. … A highly recommended read for middle-graders on up. ”
— James M. Fisher
“Young-adult fiction has to do everything a novel for adult readers does and more: it must be accessible by and relevant to an audience that has no patience for homily. Birdspell by Valerie Sherrard succeeds beautifully in that regard, steering clear of didacticism. Corbin, the book’s teenage hero, navigates an unpredictable home-life that would sink most grownups. His pluck and optimism are inspiring. ”
— Mrs. Dunster's Award for Fiction jurors
“. .. Sherrard does an excellent job of lacing humour into the story without making light of what Corbin's going through. She also keeps the story hopeful and optimistic and reminds readers that there's nothing wrong with asking for help. Highly recommended for middle-grade readers. ”
— Rachel Seigel
“Honest and straightforward, with no sugar-coating of the challenges of bipolar disorder, Birdspell offers remarkable insight to young readers unfamiliar with mental-health issues. At the same time, it provides rare validation for those children who struggle with it in their daily lives. … Despite the gravity of the subject matter, Birdspell is a very readable book laced with humour and grace. ”
— Charis Cotter