Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 12
- Grade: 4 to 7
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.
About the author
Valerie Sherrard first decided to become an author when she was in grade six! Her homeroom teacher that year, Mr. Alf Lower, praised and encouraged her efforts and instilled in her a lifelong belief in her ability to write. After producing about a dozen books for teens, Sherrard turned her hand to picture books. There’s a COW Under My Bed! introduces Oscar Ollie Brown, who will be embarking on his second adventure in There’s a Goldfish in my Shoe! in the fall of 2009. Since becoming a published author, Sherrard has enjoyed visiting many classrooms and libraries to speak to young people about writing, literacy, and most of all, finding and following your dreams. Born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Valerie has spent time in a number of provinces, including her current home of New Brunswick. She lives in Miramichi with her husband Brent and their four cats: Lilly, Thragg, Patootie and Cody.
- Short-listed, Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award
- Nominated, MYRCA Sundogs Award
- Short-listed, SYRCA Diamond Willow Award
- Nominated, Forest of Reading - Red Maple Award
- Short-listed, Mrs. Dunster's Award for Fiction - New Brunswick Book Award
- Commended, OLA Best Bets
“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.”
Quill & Quire
“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.”
“... 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.”
Canadian Children's Book News
“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.”
The Miramichi Reader
“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