Birdie Lights Up the World
EK Books, 2023
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
Each evening at sunset, Birdie the penguin would sing to the sky, enticing the stars and the moon to come out so the other zoon animals would not be left in darkness. She believed that she was the chosen one, and this was her sole purpose. But she is dismayed when she gets sick and cannot sing, and depressed when the sky lights up in its evening show regardless. Clearly, she is not as important as she thought she was. What is her purpose if not to sing the night in?
This is a sensitive story that opens up opportunities to discuss some philosophical questions with young readers about purpose and responsibility and coping with disappointment. Teachers’ notes suggest some of the questions that could be posed and how Birdie’s situation might be related to their own lives, particularly if ambitions or expectations are thwarted somehow. In a world where every little thing is rewarded with praise and celebration, some children are not learning how to deal with things that don’t work out the way they want and so this is a chance to ask, “But what if…”
“The author has said that she wanted to deliver the message that we all have special, unique gifts and it’s our responsibility to share them with the world. If we have a song to sing, we should sing it, whether it fills a stadium or only brings joy to one person … it all counts.”