Abby's Birds
by Ellen Schwartz, illustrated by Sima Elizabeth Shefrin
ISBN 1-896580-86-6
· $22.95 Canada · £9.95 UK

December 2006 Quill & Quire review by Michele Landsberg

Abby makes an unlikely friend in her neighbourhood -- her elderly Japanese neighbour, Mrs. Naka. All spring and summer, the two delight in the robins that live in the maple tree that straddles their yards, following the birds' progress as they nest and the babies hatch and learn to fly. Mrs. Naka teaches Abby how to make tori -- origami birds. Later, when Mrs. Naka has an accident, will Abby be able to use her new skill to conjure up a surprise to comfort her ailing neighbour?

Ellen Schwartz is the author of twelve fiction and non-fiction books for children, including Mr. Belinsky's Bagels and teen guides to vegetarianism and yoga. Ellen lives in Burnaby, British Columbia, where she loves to watch the birds that come to her bird feeder all year round.

Sima Elizabeth Shefrin played as a toddler in the galleries of Italy, and has been creating art ever since. She is particularly interested in the ways artwork brings together people of different cultures. Her Middle East Peace Quilt is an international community art project that has been touring North America since 1999. Elizabeth commutes between Vancouver and Gabriola Island, British Columbia. Abby's Birds is her first book.

Elizabeth at Chapters Books
in Kelowna, BC.

What people are saying about Abby’s Birds:

(The) cut-paper illustrations -- ingenious and most appealing to
the eye -- are the perfect medium for this exquisitely subtle picture book,
in which origami, the Japanese art of folding paper to make various objects
and shapes, is both theme and message.
Susan Perren, Globe and Mail 

The illustrations deserve special mention in this picture book. Done with cut paper, in brilliant colour, they mirror this story of the delights of origami.
Helen Norrie, Winnipeg Free Press

"Pure Enchantment"
Phyllis Reeve, Pages Resort and Marina. Gabriola Island

Some illustrations from Abby’s Birds; click here for more.
All copyrights to the artworks appearing are reserved by the Artist.

Sima Elizabeth Shefrin offers illustration workshops in which children create a mural on paper depicting themselves, meeting and speaking to the characters in the story, Abby and Mrs. Naka. These collaged self-portraits will be done using the cut-paper techniques of the original illustrations. All supplies are provided. This is a family activity, and children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult. Ellen Schwartz is also available for readings.

Elizabeth is a community artist, who has conducted numerous art workshops with students, seniors, and other members of the public in Vancouver, as artist in residence at Fraserview Library, the Jewish Community Centre (Art of Living Project), Kerrisdale Community Centre and South Vancouver Neighbourhood House as well with the Middle East Peace Quilt, the kickstART! Festival of Disability Arts and Culture, the Jewish Book Festival and the Peace-It-Together summer camp for Israel and Palestinian youth.

Abby’s Birds has been nominated for:
-The Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Prize (BC Book Prize)
-The Shining Willow Book Awards
-The Chocolate Lily Book Awards
- The Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award
-Long listed for the the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Award for Illustration
-Selected for the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario’s Club Amick for Aboriginal Literacy Initiatives

Original illustrations for Abby’s Birds have been purchased by the Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books in Toronto.

More illustrations by Sima Elizabeth Shefrin