My beautiful birds – Suzanne Del Rizzo

my beautiful birds
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  • Age Range: 6 – 10 years
  • Grade Level: 1 – 3
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Pajama Press (March 8, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1772780103
  • ISBN-13: 978-1772780109



Behind Sami, the Syrian skyline is full of smoke. The boy follows his family and all his neighbours in a long line, as they trudge through the sands and hills to escape the bombs that have destroyed their homes. But all Sami can think of is his pet pigeons—will they escape too? When they reach a refugee camp and are safe at last, everyone settles into the tent city. But though the children start to play and go to school again, Sami can’t join in. When he is given paper and paint, all he can do is smear his painting with black. He can’t forget his birds and what his family has left behind.

One day a canary, a dove, and a rose finch fly into the camp. They flutter around Sami and settle on his outstretched arms. For Sami it is one step in a long healing process at last.

A gentle yet moving story of refugees of the Syrian civil war, My Beautiful Birds by Suzanne Del Rizzo illuminates the ongoing crisis as it affects its children. It shows the reality of the refugee camps, where people attempt to pick up their lives and carry on. And it reveals the hope of generations of people as they struggle to redefine home.


Notable Acknowledgements: 2017 Junior Library Guild Selection, School Library Journal blogger Elizabeth Bird’s “2017 Picture Books I am Really Looking Forward To”


Rationale for Inclusion: In light of the recent and ongoing conflicts in Syria, a book such as this one could not have come at a more crucial time. This book can provide Syrian refugee children— and any child refugee for that matter, with a much-needed mirror into their lives and the various obstacles and challenges that they are required to deal with on a daily basis. Through Sami, the protagonist of the story, children can become more in touch with the thoughts, feelings, and emotions they may be experiencing, which may help them to better cope with the turmoil that is ensuing around them. Perhaps most importantly however, this story shows how Sami, despite his misfortunes, can still find pleasure in the things that are important to him. This helps to convey the message that as tough as life can be, there are still things that we can appreciate and smile, and laugh about.


As much as we would love to shelter our children from some of the horrors and tragedies that take place in our world, the truth is, that is not always realistic, nor is it necessarily a good thing in the long-run. Therefore, this book also provides a great opportunity for parents, teachers, and librarians alike, to introduce children to some of the hardships that other children around the world are facing in light of global conflicts. This book’s creative use of Plasticine to depict its illustrations, helps to create a colorful and vibrant feel to the story, which may make it easier to introduce children to such a difficult subject.



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