Each Little Bird That Sings

An Aurora County Novel


2005 National Book Award Finalist

“Open your arms to life! Let it strut into your heart in all its messy glory!”
— Uncle Edisto, Each Little Bird That Sings

Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers
Pages: 288
ISBN13: 978-0152056575 
Buy the Book: Amazon, Indiebound, Audiobook read by Kim Mai Guest at Listening Library, or at your local library.


Published by Gulliver Books/Harcourt Children’s Books 2005

  • 2005 National Book Award Finalist
  • Golden Kite Honor Book
  • Bank Street Fiction Award
  • E.B. White Read-Aloud Award
  • Winner, California Young Reader Medal
  • Placed on sixteen state book award lists voted on by young readers
  • Cover art by Marla Frazee

Ten-year-old Comfort Snowberger knows a thing or two about death. Her family owns the town funeral home and she has attended 247 funerals. She can tell you which casseroles are worth tasting, whom to sit next to, and whom to avoid at all costs. Number one on that avoid list Comfort’s sniveling, whining, unpredictable cousin Peach, who ruins every family occasion. So when Great-great-aunt Florentine drops dead–just like that–Comfort expects a family gathering to remember. What she doesn’t count is: One, she has to watch over Peach after the funeral. And two, her best friend, Declaration, has suddenly turned downright mean. Now, even if it means missing the most important funeral of her life, all Comfort really wants to do is sit in her closet with her dog, Dismay, and hide. But life is full of surprises. And the biggest one of all is learning what it takes to handle them. 

Deborah Wiles has created a unique, funny, and utterly real cast of characters in this heartfelt, and quintessentially Southern coming-of-age novel. Comfort will charm young readers with her wit, her warmth, and her struggles as she learns about life, loss, and ultimately, triumph.

Praise for Every Little Bird That Sings

“A fresh voice and an honest portrayal of life and death are a match made in heaven… a memorable tribute to the joys of living.” ­
—Starred review, 

“The family takes on joyous dimensionality through Comfort’s first-person narration, her memories and comments highlighting each person’s quirkiness and tenderness.” ­
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Comfort grabs on to the reader’s heart and refuses to let it go.” ­

“This is a deeply felt novel.” ­
School Library Journal

“Debbie, we are just so proud of you.” ­
—Aunt Beth

“What about me?” ­
—Ruby Lavender


Discussion Guide at Scholastic

Teaching Guides at TeachingBooks.net

Tour Journal


From Chapter One

I come from a family with a lot of dead people. 

Great-uncle Edisto keeled over with a stroke on a Saturday morning after breakfast last March. Six months later, Great-great-aunt Florentine died—just like that—in the vegetable garden. And, of course, there are all the dead people who rest temporarily downstairs, until they go off to the Snapfinger Cemetery. I’m related to them, too. Uncle Edisto always told me, “Everybody’s kin, Comfort.”

Downstairs at Snowbergers, my daddy deals with death by misadventure, illness, and natural causes galore. Sometimes I ask him how somebody died. He tells me, and then he says, “It’s not how you die that makes the important impression, Comfort; it’s how you live. Now go live a little while, honey, and let me get back to work. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up. I’ll start with Great-uncle Edisto and last March, since that death involves me—I witnessed it.

The world you created in Each Little Bird that Sings was such a startling revelation to me. Trust me when I say I read a LOT of books, between adult, middle grade and picture books. This is the type of book that I want to put in the hands of every single person who walks into the store, saying, ‘Just read it. Trust me.’”
— a bookstore owner, about Each Little Bird That Sings

“I was reminiscing with a friend about the books that affected us and it brought me back to Each Little Bird. Of all of your books, that was the one that stood out the most for me. The way Comfort carried herself through the world. The way she understood and simultaneously couldn’t grasp the permanence of death. The sunrise on the horizon after the darkness. The strength of putting a safe space into a novel and the tragedy of that space no longer feeling safe, which in turn becomes a metaphor for the loss of innocence. There was so much that stands out in my mind. The way you sculpted that story was so powerful and had such a lasting impact on the writer I grew to become.”
— a former young reader, about Each Little Bird That Sings