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


There is no public library
in Hadley Falls.
The nearest one
is in Gillette—
three towns away.
So Mrs. Bloom
has turned five shelves
of her pantry
into a lending library.
I’m returning
a book for Maymee:
Backstage Murders.
The pages still smell
like Mrs. Bloom’s garlic powder.

Next book

Mrs. Bloom takes
Backstage Murders
and hands me
Murder at Midnight.
“Maymee will like this one,”
she says. “It takes place
in a cemetery.”
We both smile.
My grandma, Maymee,
has been planning her funeral
for the last three years.
Maymee says it gives her
a reason to get up in the morning.

Painted toes

Nina Faull, who
lives next door to Mrs. Bloom,
is sitting on her front step
painting her toenails
bright purple.
She wags the bottle
of polish at me.
“You’re next!”
“Can’t,” I tell her.
“Maymee’s waiting
for her book.”

Eileen Spinelli
Ages 10 to14

PAPERBACK; Releases: 2/14/2023

Order this book from:

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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. This new paperback edition includes discussion questions after the story to encourage conversations about friendships, family changes, and other themes of the story.