Birds on Wishbone Street Reviews

Kirkus Reviews Starred Review

“Del Rizzo illustrates with elaborate clay modeling combined with other media; the three-dimensional look ignites interest and gives the pictures a special warmth. The story centers care for others and nature as well as focusing on people’s shared humanity. While it does not detail Sami’s refugee experience or the various backgrounds of Wishbone Street’s diverse community, its content provides many possible openings for further learning and discussion. The diverse protagonists are all capable, resourceful individuals who may be sad sometimes but have an immense ability to enjoy life.

An exquisite book, in content and illustration, about love, movement, and shared humanity: a keeper.”

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Publishers Weekly

“Maureen, also known as Moe, a light-skinned Irish Canadian child, narrates this warm slice-of-life picture book, which portrays the developing friendship between Moe and Sami, a light brown–skinned new neighbor from Syria, as they bond over a shared interest in birds. Moe meets daily with young neighbors Mei, cued East Asian, and her brother Omari, who reads as Black, as well as adult residents. Del Rizzo’s colloquial prose emphasizes collective pursuits, as Moe compares bird-related treasures (“multi-colored feathers… and bird leg-bands too”) and includes Sami in wintry activities.”

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The Horn Book Magazine

“Del Rizzo’s illustrations are made with polymer clay and paint, achieving a realistic variety of skin tones and a vibrant, three-dimensional quality. She uses the clay to create lots of textures such as the knitting on hats and mittens, as well as natural elements like snowflakes and trees, and she provides varied perspectives. The story is loving and gently paced, with the two children coming together to rescue a cardinal we have already seen in several pictures, each sacrificing a treasure to do it. An author’s note includes instructions for making suet bird feeders and pouches woven from twigs for winter bird shelters.”

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CM Magazine

Birds on Wishbone Street is a heartwarming story that brings forth the importance of simple things in life, such as treating one another with kindness and embracing the treasures that nature has to offer. It ends with a simple recipe for bird suet treats and winter roosting pockets which provide birds with food and shelter during the winter months. Additionally, author Suzanne Del Rizzo provides an “Author’s Note” with the backstory of her real-life experiences leading to the inspiration for this picture book.

The story, itself, is beautiful, but the immaculately detailed illustrations are worthy of their own praise. Del Rizzo creates exquisite, three-dimensional illustrations using polymer clay art, acrylic glaze, and other mixed media. The blending of colours, fine textured details, and other creative varieties of dimensional layers, arrangements, and perspectives are awe-inspiring.

Del Rizzo is a New York Times Notable author/illustrator who published My Beautiful Birds in 2017 and Skink on the Brink as her first picture book. A scientific researcher turned children’s book author and illustrator, she brings rich imagination to her award-winning literature.”

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“Del Rizzo’s unique art adds dimension to the book’s warm, welcoming neighborhood scenes. She creates illustrations with polymer clay, acrylic glaze and other mixed media, giv­ing depth and texture to each page. Snowflakes truly seem to float in the winter sky, and the blanket used to swaddle the cardinal has realistic folds and wrinkles.

Del Rizzo also excels at presenting a community full of many intertwined familial and social connections while capturing the smaller details of the devel­oping friendship between Moe and Sami. She expertly balances the hustle and bustle of lively outdoor scenes with more intimate indoor moments, such as when the pair share their treasures—drawings of birds, special feathers and other trinkets—with each other. In a lovely touch, Del Rizzo depicts Moe’s and Sami’s collections of keepsakes on the book’s opening and closing endpapers.

Birds on Wishbone Street (Pajama Press, $18.95, 9781772782196, ages 5 to 8) is a bighearted book that will leave readers eager to discover the many treasures that new friendships hold.”

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YA Books Central

““‘Birds on Wishbone Street’ by Suzanne Del Rizzo is a beautifully illustrated book that shows how different people can live together and get along, all with the benefits of getting to know each other and what they have to offer. From speaking different languages to learning different aspects of others’ cultures, there is always something to gain from talking to others. It is important to learn about what other people know, have done, and want to do in order to find connections and form relationships with them. One can never know what one might have in common with someone else until a conversation occurs.

The illustrations in this book are very interesting. They have a sense of realism in them that other illustrations in other books do not have, from their bright colors, to the way the angles don’t necessarily always look directly at people, but sometimes view characters from above, or even from behind. It’s also a nice touch that there is a recipe and a craft in the back of the book for readers to take the book to a whole new level, using the themes within the story to further explore how one’s interests can foretell kindness and the birth of similarities with others.”

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The International Educator

“Based on a real street in Toronto, Canada where many immigrant families settled, Birds on Wishbone Street by Suzanne Del Rizzo is a beautiful story  of people coming from different cultures. They share their food and their stories. But newly arrived Sami is not talking much. Until a bird needs his special attention and brings back memories and stories from home. Illustrated in clay and mixed media, the glorious art is a joy to explore. The book works on many different levels and even offers instructions on how to make your own winter bird treats.”

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Canadian Children’s Book News

“Wishbone Street, an actual street in Toronto, is a welcoming neighbourhood to immigrants who have come there from all over the world. Friends with everyone of any age, Maureen, or Moe for short, is eager to meet Sami, a young boy who has just arrived with his family from Syria. She notices him bird watching in the parkette and surmises that he loves nature and birds just as she does. A friendship between the two gradually develops, although Sami is reluctant to share his past. His experience with birds comes to the fore when a cold female cardinal is discovered lying in the snow. Taking leadership to save her, Sami reveals that he raised pet pigeons in Syria and studied wild birds while at a refugee camp. Together with several neighbours, they make bird suet treats and winter roosting pockets to feed and shelter winter birds. “New friends, new treats, new homes… fresh start for Sami and for our neighborhood birds… We are all neighbors on Wishbone Street.”

Suzanne Del Rizzo has written a touching sequel to My Beautiful Birds, which relayed Sami’s experience through the Syrian refugee crisis. The life story of Sami and his family continues in Canada as readers witness his fading anxiety and gradual acceptance of his new neighbourhood, this due to simple acts of kindness and the discovery of a kindred spirit. This uplifting story will resonate with young readers, especially those who are new to Canada.

Del Rizzo’s stunning illustrations, created from polymer clay, acrylic glaze and other mixed media, introduce readers to the inhabitants and geography of Wishbone Street from a variety of perspectives. Not only are the fall and winter scenes within this book filled with a myriad of delightful details, but one can almost feel the rich textures of what is being portrayed on its pages.”

Oakville News

“Wishbone Street is a special kind of street – and yes, there is one in Toronto – everyone seems to have come from somewhere else and all manner of languages are spoken. So Moe, a friendly and curious girl, is excited when she learns a new boy has moved in.  He has come from Syria and is called Sami.  Moe wants to get to know him.  But Sami is shy and reluctant to talk although he shares Moe’s love of birds. Then winter arrives and the neighbourhood children enjoy playing in the snow at the local parkette.  When they come across a scarlet cardinal stunned by the freezing cold, who comes to the bird’s rescue but Sami using his knowledge of looking after pigeons in Syria.  By this simple act of kindness Sami begins to feel more at home.

Oakville author Suzanne Del Rizzo has certainly scored another triumph with this delightful story about kindness and how the simple act of rescuing a bird can strengthen the bonds of community as newcomers to this country share friendship and understanding.

Del Rizzo set out on a career in medical scientific research but left it when she began having children.  The urge to get back to her childhood love of getting her hands dirty resurfaced, and thus began her new career, first as a children’s book illustrator and then progressing to writing her own stories and illustrating them herself.”

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“A heart-warming story about kindness, inclusion and belonging, by the creator of My Beautiful Birds. Love the endpapers and love the value added craft activities parents or grandparents can do with their littles after reading the book…bird suet treats and winter roosting pockets.”

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CanLit for Little Canadians

“Wishbone Street is more than just a bunch of houses. It’s a multicultural community, welcoming and supportive of all. And when a cardinal is injured, that community brings them all, newcomers and long-time residents, together to do good….

Suzanne Del Rizzo‘s polymer clay art has always impressed, giving new textures and colours to already-strong stories. But when she illustrates her own stories, Suzanne Del Rizzo shines. There is a synergy of her words and art that elevates both into something truly extraordinary. In Birds on Wishbone StreetSuzanne Del Rizzo honours her own family and those of all immigrants to Canada, and upholds the idea that communities are based on an appreciation for our differences and acknowledgement of our commonalities. With that sense of community, great things can happen: a newcomer feels at home, a bird is helped, and important learning can happen. And with her magnificent art, created with polymer clay, acrylic glaze and other mixed media, Suzanne Del Rizzo takes us to Wishbone Street, into the parkette and into the snow, to bird-watch with Sami and Moe, to yearn for cannoli and churros shared between neighbours, and to feel those first snowflakes on our faces. We’re there on Wishbone Street, watching as a world unfolds and enfolds, making one community out of many.

There may be snow in Birds on Wishbone Street and on our streets today but this picture book will serve as inspiration year round to promoting the joys of including everyone in our communities to the benefit of all.”

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Book Time

“Moe loves birds, climbing trees and hanging out with her neighbours on Wishbone Street who come from all over the world. She is excited to meet the new boy from Syria, but shyness wins over until the children bond over a female cardinal found lying in the snow.

“Sami uses his experience taking care of pigeons in Syria to help rescue the bird, which also helps Sami feel more at home.”

Birds on Wishbone Street is by Suzanne Del Rizzo and Pajama Press. Wishbone Street, said Del Rizzo in her author’s note, is based on a real street in Toronto where her husband grew up.

“Many immigrant families settled there. Just like Moe and Sami, they know we are better together.”

I love the plasticine illustrations in this book, particularly the snowflakes.”

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Storytime with Stephanie

“Any story featuring birds and plasticine artwork is a book I want to read. The Birds of Wishbone Street by Suzanne De Rizzo is a story about birds and a special community….

We love the community feel of this story. It wraps you in a warm blanket of kindness. The people in the community are kind and generous, all from different places around the world. Collecting treasures is an important part of life on Wishbone street. Moe welcomes Sami to the community by sharing a bird’s feather with him, before even knowing about his own collecting of treasures from Syria. The treasures help the children learn more about each other and build friendships. The children of Wishbone Street are so welcoming. When a bird is in trouble, they band together to save this cherished member of the community. The support and love the members of the community feel for each other is evident on each page. It’s a story that obviously come from the heart and extends a hand to readers.

The plasticine illustrations will blow you away! The amount of detail and love placed into each spread invites readers into the community. There are not many spreads that are missing birds somewhere in the picture and readers will have a fun time trying to spot the beautiful cardinal pair throughout the book. Plasticine art is inspiring and readers will be eager to take out their own plasticine and create. Or perhaps will want to follow the instructions at the end of the story to make roosting baskets and/or bird suet treats for their feathered community members.

According to Suzanne Del Rizzo’s author’s note, Wishbone Street is inspired by a real street in Toronto where her husband grew up. A beautiful connection to her whole family and a reflection of why this story is so special.”

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Sal’s Fiction Addiciton

“Wishbone Street is a very interesting place to live for those who live there. They come from many different countries, with unique histories and languages. Their stories reflect their lives before they moved there. Maureen, called Moe, has an Irish background. When a new family moves in nearby, Moe wonders about the boy she sees outside her window….

Following the story, Ms. Del Rizzo provides careful instructions for making the treats and pockets that Sami and Moe make. The illustrations, made using polymer clay and acrylics, will have readers in awe of the details, the ever-changing perspectives, and the wonders of the season as the two friends learn more about each other and how much they are alike. An author’s note about real-life events in her life adds interest.

This is a truly wonderful story about friendship, community and being kind. It should be shared in all early and upper elementary classrooms.”

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