Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 9, 2019

Book Giveaway: BIRDIE by Eileen Spinelli

Author Eileen Spinelli has a new book titled, BIRDIE. Eileen has agreed to share a book with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for sharing Eileen’s book!


A relatable novel-in-verse about loss… and what happens afterwards

Twelve-year-old Birdie Briggs loves birds. They bring her comfort when she thinks about her dad, a firefighter who was killed in the line of duty. Life without her dad isn’t easy, but at least Birdie still has Mom and Maymee, and her friends Nina and Martin.

But then Maymee gets a boyfriend, Nina and Martin start dating, and Birdie’s mom starts seeing a police officer. And suddenly not even her beloved birds can lift Birdie’s spirits. Her world is changing, and Birdie wishes things would go back to how they were before. But maybe change, painful as it is, can be beautiful too.

With compelling verse and a lighthearted touch, Eileen Spinelli captures the poignancy of adolescence and shows what can happen when you let people in.


Birdie’s journey began when I was a little girl.

I noticed that my mother was afraid of birds. Clothespins scattered if a sparrow came into our yard when she was hanging laundry. Swooping seagulls at the Jersey shore sent her screeching into boardwalk shops. Soon I was scurrying away from bluebirds as though they were pterodactyls.

And then I grew up and read a magical phrase: We fear what we don’t know. It was then I decided to learn everything I could about birds. Birdie mentions some of the facts that turned my fear to delight and admiration.

Facts like: during courtship cranes dance…blue jays bury food for winter… Mozart wove a starling’s song into his own compositions.

Now I welcome birds to our backyard houses and feeders. Watching them is one of my best pleasures. So that’s how Birdie, the narrator came to be a girl who loves birds.

Birdie’s father, a firefighter, has died in the line of duty. Her mother begins seeing a police officer. These two are my homage to first responders everywhere.

Maymee is part my imagination and part my great-aunt Rose. And next to Birdie–the character I had the most fun writing.

The most difficult character for me was Charlie Deale. I needed him in the book but I couldn’t quite figure him out. With her insightful questions and kind support my editor, Kathleen Merz,  helped to get me unstuck.

For me–coming up with characters  Charlie Deale notwithstanding has always been the easiest part of a story.

I tend to have a harder time with plot. For a year or so I simply made notes and hoped that a plot or two would emerge. One day our granddaughter Rachel asked me a cute question: “Do you and Grandpop cuddle?” That got me to thinking of the many aspects of love: crushes, puppy love, parental love, young love, new love, lasting love etc. Love became a plot possibility.

And with love–loss. Who/what might Birdie lose? How would she handle loss? How might she change, heal, grow?

I did research on various topics. Friends and family (see acknowledgements) shared their own lives and expertise in the realms of middle school, small towns, birding, and medicine.

After a while my notebook was filled. It was time to find Birdie’s voice. Time to write.

I have to say Birdie’s voice came easily. The first verse in the book almost wrote itself– one of those gifts we writers receive now and again.

I tried to write each day. Mostly mornings. Then came the holidays. I don’t write from the end of November until January 1st. I’m too busy baking, wrapping gifts, decorating, and hanging out with family and friends.

For me fallow time has always been a good thing. But it doesn’t always feel that way. As the New Year approached I worried I would not be able

to get back into the book. Maybe even never write again. ( I know–I dramatize.)

My husband Jerry –my true best fan– gently nudged me back into my writing chair, back to work. It took another year. Finally that feeling of feelings. Book! Finished!

Jerry, my first reader loved it. Even more the second time he read it. I was ready to submit the manuscript.

In 2016 I sent it out to an editor.

And waited,

And waited some more.

I heard nothing.

In early 2017 I sent it out again.


I sent it right back out.

Accepted! Yippee!

On November 21st of 2017 I signed a contract with  William B. Eerdmans. And celebrated for a week. Mushroom pizza from Pica’s, a fuzzy new

bathrobe, a Christmas cactus, dark chocolate truffles…

There was more  revising–my least favorite part of the writing process. With each revision (maybe four altogether) the book grew better–but whew! — it was hard work.

Seeing the  endearing cover art by Vivian Mineker made it official: Birdie was a book. I loved how Vivian included so many details from the story ( cat, binoculars, Scrabble game, birds, etc. ) I love the golden light at her windows. I love the sense of cozy as Birdie sits at the window seat.

My writing chair is at a window too. Bird houses and feeders are on the other side of the glass. I’m waiting for the first bluebird of spring.


Eileen Spinelli debut picture book Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch was published in 1991. That book won an IRA/CBC Children’s Choice book and Christopher Award winner. Then it was off to the races with numerous picture books, poetry collections, and chapter books, including the best-selling When Mama Comes Home Tonight, and the critically acclaimed Sophie’s Masterpiece. Eileen has published over 85 book, 79 still in print. She lives in Media, Pennsylvania with her Newbery Medal winning husband Jerry Spinelli.

Eileen, thank you for sharing your book and its’ journey with us. As always your compelling verse captures the poignancy of adolescence and shows what can happen when you let people in. I am sure readers of all ages will enjoy BIRDIE and I am sure it find a special place on the winners book shelf.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I’m very excited to see this post because I’m looking for new novels in verse for a presentation I’m preparing for a group of literary tutors. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Sounds like a beautiful story!


  3. I’m such a fan of Eileen and her books! She is such a caring, giving spirit. Can’t wait to read this one!


  4. Thank you very much for sharing your process! It’s good to know it takes a long while to create a a story with lots of heart. This book goes on my must-read list!


  5. Birdie sounds like a very captivating book! In verse! Can’t wait to read it. Congratulations!


  6. This book looks wonderful!!! Congratulations on your writing journey! 🎉💕🎉


  7. I also posted on Facebook about this wonderful post and book! 😊


  8. This sounds like a beautiful book!


  9. I am also an Eileen Spinelli fan (Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch was a favorite of my kiddos, many years ago.) Thanks for sharing this book’s journey.


  10. I love reading how personal experiences and childhood memories trigger story ideas, characters, and plot points. No wonder every story can be told only by its author! I am looking forward to reading Birdie! (And must admit I am curious about how Eileen’s mother grew to be fearful of birds!)


  11. Eileen, I love hearing how this story came about and what’s behind the characters. What I sincerely appreciate is you sharing your struggle with the process, along with your doubts and rejections. It’s all inspirational and the books sounds WONderful 🙂 Thank you!


  12. Very true – We fear what we don’t know. Thanks for sharing!


  13. Oh my goodness! I loved reading about Eileen’s writing process for this book! So inspiring!


  14. So much fun to read this process and Thank you, Eileen, for your honesty with the struggle of getting some stories right. Thanks to Kathy as always for your wonderful and ever-informative blog!


  15. This sounds like a winner for sure. My new book coming out in February 2020 is written in verse. Would love a copy of this one. I tweeted, shared on FB and reblogged this.


  16. Reblogged this on Darlene Beck-Jacobson and commented:
    A wonderful post that deserves to be shared.


  17. Birdie sounds wonderful!


  18. This sounds like a wonderful book. I, too, love the cover. I marvel at people who can write an entire book in verse.


  19. I enjoyed reading the story behind the story! Sounds delightful.


  20. I am looking forward to this book! I’m a huge fan of Eileen’s poetry and have many of her books! Great interview!


  21. Happy book birthday to Eileen! I’ve been looking forward to this one! I loved reading about the book’s journey. (Shared on Twitter as well.)


  22. Thanks for sharing this book and Eileen’s journey. I just tweeted and put it up on FB! It’s helpful to know even the BIG authors still experience rejections!


  23. I will be looking fo this book. Sounds terrific. Thanks for an interesting post.


  24. I loved reading about Eileen’s BIRDIE book journey.


  25. I love reading about a book’s journey, and especially one this sweet in-verse! Sounds lovely. Congratulations!


  26. what a lovely and important story! would love to read!


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