30 Aug. 2022
Paperback / softback
After a devastating car crash, Annie is unable to play her flute and retreats from the music she's always loved.
She exists in a world of angry silence - furious with her mum and furious she can't seem to play her beloved flute any more.
Then she meets Noah, who shows her the blackbirds' nest hidden in the scrubland near their flats. As their friendship grows, the blackbird's glorious song reignites Anna's passion for music. But when tragedy strikes again, will her fragile progress be put at risk?
InformationBook Type: Junior Chapter
Age Group: 8 to 12 years
Traffic Lights: Green/Amber
Class Novel: No
Good Reads Rating: 5/5
Literary Rating: 4.5/5
Annie’s music was the most important thing in her life—nothing brought her so much joy as playing her flute and hearing and feeling the music flow all around her. After her arm was badly injured in a car crash, however, the music that was once her solace became a painful reminder that her hand and fingers just wouldn’t do what she wanted anymore.
Annie’s mum tried everything she could to cheer her up, but she was just too mad and upset, especially after they had to move to a new, really tiny flat. Avoiding her mum’s efforts to cheer her up—as well as the doctor’s recommendations to do her exercises and start to rehabilitate her injured arm—Annie decides to explore their new neighbourhood. At a nearby park she meets Noah, a boy her age who is caring for a pair of beautiful blackbirds and their eggs.
While initially put off by the somewhat strange boy, Annie is soon engrossed with the birds and their beautiful songs. As days and weeks pass, Annie and Noah become good friends, meeting every day to care for the birds. One day, Noah finds out that Annie was applying to a prestigious music school before the accident and asks her what changed, causing Annie to become upset and storm home. The next day, Noah shows up at Annie’s flat distraught—the male blackbird was killed by a fox overnight, and the female is nowhere to be found. The two friends anxiously watch over the eggs day after day until the female finally returns…but she has lost her song without her partner around.
Eventually the eggs hatch and, realising that she hasn’t once been worried about her injury while with the birds, Annie decides to bring her flute down to the park one morning. While initially very rough, her playing soon improves as she practices with the birds, and before long the female blackbird begins to sing along with her—it seems like they both managed to find their song again. After that Annie plays for the birds every day, and soon she decides to go through with her music school application. For the first time since the crash she reconnects with her mum, and the two embrace, ready to move on with their lives.
This is a gorgeous story about recovering from trauma, told through the eyes of the injured Annie as she learns to live her life again after the car crash. Annie’s struggles are depicted very authentically, with the metaphor of her ‘music’ used to great effect throughout. A wonderful dyslexia friendly Hi-Lo story with a happy, well-earned ending.
trauma, car crash, injury, healing, rehabilitation, music, black birds, flutes
1. Annie was in a serious car crash that severely injured her arm. At the start of the story, she recalls being in hospital covered in bandages and stitches. 2. The male blackbird is killed, presumably by a fox, towards the end of the story. This doesn’t happen on the page, but Annie and Noah find him dead the next morning.
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