Reviews /

Budgie

Authored by Joseph Coelho
Illustrated by David Barrow
Published by Barrington Stoke

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Budgie, a Little Gems book, published by Barrington Stoke, is a beautifully simple tale of a boy who finds a bird.

It’s the holidays, and Miles isn’t going away like his friend Chris, he’s out on his bike on the estate where he lives. From their third-floor window, his Mum and sister Mary watch Mr Buxton flapping around with a black bin bag and laugh at him doing a rubbish dance. Miles is scared of Mr Buxton, as he recently shouted at him for climbing trees.

When Miles discovers a beautiful green and yellow budgie outside, he brings the bird back to show Mum. To his surprise, he is not only allowed to keep the bird, but she gets an old cage from a friend who lives downstairs. He names the bird Pippin, and that night dreams of flying with him in the sky. Miles is heartbroken when the budgie doesn’t survive the night, and as a family they have a ceremony to bury Pippin in the estate grounds.

Scary Mr Buxton comes to visit, and they discover that Pippin (or Lemon as he is really called) belonged to him. He had been a present from his husband who had since died. Lemon had sung and danced as Mr Buxton played the piano and was a comfort to him when he felt lonely.

This is a great story to help children encounter loss, but it also introduces a same sex relationship gently, casually and matter of factly. Mr Buxton mentions his husband of many years whom he met at university. Reading this book would be an interesting launch point for children to explore prejudice towards gay couples historically.

Budgie also makes reference to difference. Chris, Miles’ friend, has money for a mobile phone and goes away on holiday with his family. Meanwhile, Miles dreams of flying away like an eagle, soaring free, but is confined to riding around the estate on his bike. Mum wants to go to university to study, to make a better life for her family. There’s even a ‘Spot the Difference’ at the end of the book between two pictures.

The vibrant illustrations by David Barrow accompany the story really well, bringing the characters, and Pippin, to life. Joseph Coelho has written a thoughtful, gentle story that children will really enjoy.

Mr Buxton says to Miles ‘ Never stop reaching for the sky Miles, but always take care.‘ I think that message is a good one to take away from reading this delightful story.