Blessing knows she remembers the soft touch of the swallow’s wing tip on her baby lips, whatever her mother says. She has an affinity with birds. Her ears are tuned to their songs despite the noise of the city streets. So when she finds the bag filled with paper birds for her they are alive – alive with wishes. They are Wish Birds. Through them Blessing finds that there is someone who is feeling the same pain and loss that she does; the absence of a father, an incomplete family. And if for some a wish may come true – for others there may not be such relief. But just as swallows leave, they then return – so there is always hope and a wish.
Swallow’s Kiss is one of a new initiative from Pop Up Projects – 10+ stories to make a difference. The production values are excellent and each title has been carefully designed to look attractive and accessible to a varied audience, ranging from KS1 to KS3 but with no sense of condescension. The authors are established and well known and each volume is highly illustrated. Swallow’s Kiss by Sita Bramachari is such a one. Blessing is child other children will recognise whether as a classmate or perhaps because her predicament will chime with their own experience. It is a hopeful story told in a blank verse format attractive and immediate to read whatever the level. Blessing speaks to us directly. Jane Ray is the perfect illustrator to bring the text alive. Her jewel bright colours make the birds – whether real or the paper Wish Birds – fly off the page She gives Blessing a face and physical presence – and while there is still an element of sadness at the end, her final spread echoes Bramachari’s message of hope and the strength of a diverse community.