Kid’s Book Review: Birdsong

Kid’s Book Review: Birdsong

About the Book and Author

We were luck to receive a proof of this exciting new book by Katya Balen, whose other book October, October has recently been shortlisted for the prestigious Carnegie Medal.

Kayta’s book, Birdsong is about a girl whose lapsed interest in music is reawakened by a blackbird’s song, reminding us all of the comfort we can draw from Nature at challenging times in our lives.

Birdsong is the author’s first collaboration with Barrington Stoke who commission short, but perfectly complete stories for children written by the best contemporary children’s writers.

The publisher’s mission is make their stories accessible to as many readers as possible, including those who are dyslexic and those who struggle to complete a conventional full-length novel. Dubbed ‘reluctant readers’ these children can sometimes find a book without images, or with small letters and dense tightly packed text  off-putting so, they give up before they’ve really had a chance to get ‘into’ it, which is a shame.

In these books by Barrington Stoke the stories are fully formed, not abridged versions of a longer story. They are imaginative, have developed characters and are often packed with empathy and emotion like Birdsong. The writing process challenges writers as every word has to count  – there aren’t enough pages for waffle!!

We can’t wait to see the final cover. Charlotte read what is called a ‘proof’ because the book has not yet been published and won’t be in the shops until 7th July. The image below is the version on the edition that we are grateful to have had a chance to enjoy before it’s book birthday! Thank you

Katya Balen - credit Patrick Simpson

Katya Balen read English at university and then completed an MPhil researching the impact of stories on autistic children’s behaviour. She has worked in a variety of special needs schools as a teaching assistant, and more recently co-founded Mainspring Arts – a not-for-profit that provides mentoring and creative opportunities for neurodivergent adults.


Book Review

it's an amazing, heart-warming book

This is a great book! It’s a really lovely story about a girl who can’t play her beloved flute after being involved in a car accident but two blackbirds help bring music back into her life.

It has short chapters so when you want to stop, the end of the chapter is only about a page away. I can personally relate to Annie (the protagonist) as I also play the flute and I would find it it really hard if it was taken away from me, or I couldn’t play anymore.

I love the relationship between Annie, the boy Noah and the blackbirds as they all see music everywhere.

I would recommend the book for 7-10 year olds as at some points it’s a little sad.

But overall, it’s an amazing, heart-warming book.




Page Preview

If you would would like to buy a copy of the book we invite you to order it from your local independent book shop.

It will be published in early July by Barrington Stoke.

Reviewer Profile

  • Name: Charlotte
  • Age: 9 years
  • Likes: gymnastics, performing and books
  • Dislikes: anchovies and bossy people
  • Favourite Book: The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
  • Favourite Film: Descendants
  • Favourite Song: Believer by Imagine Dragons