Birdie’s Billions

Bloomsbury. Dec. 2021. 274p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781547607112.
Gr 3-7–Birdie moves to Valley Lake so her mother can get high-paying work and Birdie can go to a good school, yet she is not rolling in cash like many of her posh sixth-grade schoolmates. Then Birdie discovers a treasure trove of money in an abandoned house, and their whole lives change. Birdie is excited they’ve struck it rich, and her mother will never have to work again—now all she has to do is convince her mother to take the cash. Matters go from bad to worse when her friend Hailey’s mother starts spreading rumors that Birdie is a thief. Birdie’s lies grow as she tries to cover up where she found the money. The main character is well developed, and readers will relate to Birdie’s angst at being poor and the challenge of always telling the truth. They will relate to how fragile friendships can be, how being a good friend can mean making tough choices, and how people can judge you before they get to know you. Hailey’s mother is well written, cruel and insistent on only her views and judging people harshly. Mom and Birdie’s relationship is open and at times feels a bit idyllic. The recurrent themes of not judging a person and always telling the truth can be a little heavy-handed at times, and the story wraps up too conveniently, with everything coming together for the good of all in the end. Fans of Christopher Paul Curtis’s Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money or Eleanor Estes’s The Hundred Dresses may enjoy this title.
VERDICT A hopeful story about friendship, prejudice, and overcoming adversity that will keep readers engaged.

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