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My Beautiful Birds

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  327 Ratings  ·  112 Reviews
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 t ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published March 8th 2017 by Pajama Press
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My Beautiful Birds: stunningly illustrated and loosely based on a true story, this simple yet profound storybook touched me deeply. It is both sad and sweet, haunting and hopeful; a wonderful age-appropriate introduction for little ones into the plight of Syrian refugees displaced by terrorism and war.

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention Del Rizzo's gorgeously stunning, meticulously intricate artwork comprised of polymer clay and a host of other mixed medias. The details she sculpted into
Laura Bowman
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My Beautiful Birds is both sad and touching, compelling and infuriating, heart-wrenching and hopeful. It is the story of a young, Syrian boy named Sami. He and his family flee their war-torn home in search of a place of refuge and Sami experiences a great deal of distress. However, Sami's distress is not directly associated with fear for his own life, or sadness of leaving his home—he suffers not knowing if his pet birds, who got left behind, are OK. Sami and his family find a refugee camp and a ...more
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
After bombs destroy their home, Sami's family is forced to flee Syria and leave his beloved pet birds behind. As Sami adjusts to life in a refugee camp, he finds solace and new friendship through his connections to nature. A sad and beautiful story paired with incredibly stunning sculpted-clay illustrations.
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful and touching story of a Syrian child who must flee his home.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Masha Harris
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, book-clubs
I wrote the following Book Club Discussion Questions (for adults) for this book:

1. Suzanne Del Rizzo wrote this book because she was looking for an age-appropriate way to teach her children about the Syrian Civil War. Do you feel she achieves this with “My Beautiful Birds”? Are there any parts you didn’t feel were age-appropriate?
2. Why did Del Rizzo choose to tell the story of Syrian refugees from a child’s point of view? Do you feel it was effective?
3. What is life like for the children in the
Jillian Heise
A beautiful book, with unique clay illustrations that leave much to pour over on each page, tells the story of a family in Syria as they have to leave their home (and the boy's beloved pigeons) behind and find a way to move on in a refugee camp. Add this to your refugee stories text set with The Journey & Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey.
Grecia Flaws
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beautiful artwork that accompanies a story that does not allow us to avert our eyes to what is happening to many children today.
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sweet, sad story of a Syrian child who has fled his home with his family and is now living in a refugee camp. Lovely illustrations.
Shelle Perry

There is a fine line to walk when writing for children about the horror and deprivation of war, especially when that story is about a child of the same age. The author needs to inspire empathy and understanding without causing anxiety for the young readers. In My Beautiful Birds, Del Rizzo has done a masterful job of straddling that line and in doing so has not only given a beautiful story, but also a teachable moment for kids ages 4-10.

In this story, young Sammi and his family are forced to fle
Wow. How do you talk about war and refugees and other tough topics with small children? How do you cover loss and grieving and cultures that are so very unfamiliar? Maybe read books that talk about everyday things like birds, and families, and love. Maybe if we all can show kindness to each other in small everyday ways, then what seems strange or unfamiliar won't be. Maybe we could learn to choose love instead more often then anger or fear. Just a thought.
A book to help children understand what other Syrian refugee children are going though. The story is gently told and gives an idea of what tent cities are like. The illustrations are amazing.
A Syrian boy, named Sami, displaced with his family by the civil war taking place in that country, is the subject of Suzanne Del Rizzo's book, My Beautiful Birds. Written with the intent of explaining to children what is happening to the people of Syria who must flee their home and country during the unrest, we meet Sami as he, his family, and neighbors are escaping their war-torn community. The title of the book refers to the flock of birds that Sami has raised on the rooftop of the building in ...more
In gorgeous mixed media with polymer clay figures pushing out from the page, Suzanne del Rizzo tells the sad story of Sami who must leave his home as so many from Syria have had to do. Not only are they leaving home, but Sami must also leave his beloved pet pigeons. He is devasted, can only think of them as they finally reach the camp and safety. When other children play, not Sami. His sadness has overwhelmed him. The illustrations caused me to pause and admire the detail. One of the first pages ...more
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, indeed. The story. The illustrations.

Scarred at a young age by the atrocity of Chicken Run, I'm cautious of claymation in any form, but the vibrant mix of clay and acrylic at work here is captivating. I did a picture walk, soaking in the swells of emotion and intricacy of detail, before I even noticed words on the page.

Those words were well worth noticing, too. Though it shouldn't impress me as much as it does, there was actually a story around the larger issues of war and displacem
Zach Rusnak
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My beautiful birds is a very good book. The genre of the book is realistic fiction because the book is about refugees, but contain fictional characters. The book is about a family leaving their home because it was turned into a war zone. The book is good for children because it is about refugees and it shows them what is going on in the world.
Sami and everyone he knows is fleeing from their town in Syria. When they get to the refugee camp, people try to live life as they know how - by planting gardens, cooking meals, opening small businesses, setting up a school for the children. But Sami can't move on; he's fixated on the pet pigeons he had to leave behind, wondering where they are and whether they were safe, too. (view spoiler) ...more
Shaye Miller
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My Beautiful Birds is a GORGEOUS children’s book! What initially grabbed my attention was the artwork which was created with polymer clay and acrylic. Pictures are the first thing young children learn to read in books, so I never underestimate the impact of beautiful artwork. But this book also has an important message about families escaping from Syria. The story follows a young boy named Sami after his homeland is bombed. His pet birds escape and memories of them follow him throughout the stor ...more
Patricia Tilton
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a timely and compassionate story of a Syrian child refugee who flees his beloved home with his family and leaves behind his pet pigeons. Sami’s story is a journey of hardship, sorrow, and hope for a better future. Conditions are cramped in the tent city, but Sami and his family are safe. But he has trouble adjusting to his new life. He continues to worry about his pigeons, until three birds appear one day and he finds his joy again. This is a turning point for Sami.

Del Rizzo’s exquisite 
Alex Schultz
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sami walks from a burning city through sand hills and dunes. He is followed by all of the people that lived in the city as well. Through out the book, Sami is curious about the pigeons he owned and if they were able to escape in time from the fires that scorched the city. Sami is shown to be depressed from this because he is unable to do things with the other kids. He paints a picture of a beautiful bird, but splashes in black paint, showing his thoughts of what happened to his birds. Then, some ...more
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
The memories of a child refugee is often full of fear, confusion, uncertainty, and sadness. When Sami escapes from his Syrian village, those feelings are there, as well as concern for his beautiful pigeons that he kept as pets. The birds couldn’t flee with them, but Sami holds onto the belief that they got out safely. The worry keeps Sami from adapting to his new surroundings, until some new birds arrive one day and bring the most important need for refugees: hope. Suzanne Del Rizzo, a Canadian ...more
Jordyn Matthews
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
My beautiful birds, written by Suzanna Del Rizzo, is a book about a young boy named Sami who is forced to leave his city with his father because it is on fire and burning down. Sami and the rest of the people from his city had to move outside of the city to live in tents, to try and avoid the smoke and fires that resided there. He had to leave behind his beloved pet pigeons, which is the reason for the title of the book. Throughout the story, he thinks back upon his birds and is constantly wonde ...more
Christine Irvin
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When Sami is forced to flee his home because it has been blown apart (along with those of his neighbors), he is forced to leave his pigeons behind. Even though Sami and his family eventually make it safely to a refugee camp, Sami wonders about his birds and hopes that they are okay. He is so concerned about the birds that he finds it difficult to concentrate on anything else.

Then one day he begins to notice there are birds around the camp. He then makes it his job to take care of those birds.

Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the story of a refugee child, Sami, who misses his home and his pet birds. The story begins with his family's journey of escape. Over half of the story takes place in a refugee camp, Sami's new dwelling place. There he befriends a girl as lost and lonely as he is and shares his new birds with her. The illustrations were made using clay.

"Today Za'atari houses close to 80,000 refugees, making it the fourth largest city in Jordan. According to the UNHCR (The United Nations Refugee Agency),
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Presenting the refugee crisis to children is not an easy task. Author Suzanne Del Rizzo tackles this timely issue in her uplifting new book, My Beautiful Birds. Intended for ages 6 and older, this masterfully illustrated picture book offers its audience hope and renewed empathy for humanity.
Loosely based on the life of a real refugee child who keeps birds, this story depicts the challenges and struggles a young child endures when war breaks out in his home country. While the story is not about
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This picture book was selected for the 2017 One Book One San Diego program. It is a hauntingly sad and beautiful depiction of life for a child refugee of the conflict in Syria. A young boy is evacuated with his family due to the war, and his chief concern is for his pet pigeons. The loss of the beloved birds is overwhelmingly sad for Sami and colors every aspect of his life. Gradually he comes to terms with his situation. He lives in a refugee camp and one day sees other beautiful birds. These a ...more
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, canadian, children-s
4.5 stars for a perfect children's book. A colleague passed it to me and recommended I take a look at it. It's beautiful - the pictures are done with plasticine art, and they are wonderfully detailed. I took a second look through because the art was so gorgeous.

The story is of a displaced Syrian family as they leave Syria (and everything behind) and seek out a new life at a UN Refugee camp. The story is told through the eyes of the little boy, who had to leave his birds behind.

It's a powerful s
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sami loves living in Syria with his family and his pet pigeons. But when the war forces his family to leave, he worries about his pigeons. He is now safe in a refugee camp, but he finds that the world still feels black. Until one day, three beautiful birds find him and help him rediscover a world of color.

This book brought tears to my eyes in a good way. This book deal with a heavy but important topic: the ongoing crisis in Syria. It does it in a way that doesn't oversimplify a complex issue but
Viviane Elbee
This is a picture book about a refugee in Syria for elementary students. Though the story is fictional, refugees and refugee camps are real and Suzanne Del Rizzo was inspired by an article about a boy in a refugee camp who took solace in wild birds to write this story.
The clay & mixed media artwork adds a lot of texture to the illustrations.
The kids sat silently for the whole (longer) story and then asked questions about refugees - so I recommend this book for refugee theme discussions.
(If y
Li Sifan(Liona)
It can be said that this book tells a sad and warm story. After the bomb destroyed their home, Sammy’s family was forced to flee Syria and leave his beloved pet bird behind him. As Sammy adapts to life in the camp, he finds comfort and new friendship through his relationship with nature. Sculptured clay illustrations are the highlights of the book, conveying a sad mood. Perhaps everyone's understanding of the family is not the same, the family is an important part of life like a bird in the book ...more
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