Whistling for Angela

Whistling for Angela
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
Release Date
May 17, 2022
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Daniel is preparing a special gift for his new baby sister, but will it be ready by the time they go to the adoption center?
To show baby Angela how much she is loved by her new family, Daniel wants to whistle for her like the songbirds he loves so much. But will she smile for him? When they arrive at the adoption center and Daniel still hasn’t got the knack of whistling, it’s Jessie, Angela’s birthmother, who knows just what to do. 
Whistling for Angela celebrates the familial bonds formed through the act of adoption. Illustrator Peggy Collins’ heartwarming close-ups of the families’ loving interactions create an intimate atmosphere throughout all the emotions of the day. In her author’s note Robin Heald shares the inspiration for the story, which came directly from her own experiences with adoption. She also explores the increasingly common practice of building connections between all three sides of the adoption triangle: the child, the birth family, and the adoptive family. 

Editor review

1 review
Meeting a New Sibling through Open Adoption
Overall rating
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Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Daniel loves birds, so when his family is headed to the adoption center to pick up his new baby sister, he tries very hard to learn to whistle so that he can share this skill with his new sibling. It doesn't always go well, and he's worried that he won't have a gift for her. His mother tells him that loving his new sister will be gift enough, but he still worries. His family works with him to understand that his sister's birth mother will be there, and that they will meet her before bringing the sister home. This makes sense to Daniel, and he thinks about the two friends he has at school who are adopted. When the day comes to meet his sister, Angela, Daniel still can't whistle, but he connects with the birth mother, Jessie, over a shared love of birds. He holds Angela and tries to whistle, but it is Jessie's instructions that enable him to produce a sound. Daniel can see that Jessie is sad, so he reassures her that he and his family will take good care of Angela.
Good Points
As open adoptions become more and more the standard practice, picture books about the process need to be updated. When my best friend was adopted in the 1960s, her story was certainly very different from Angela's! There are open lines of communication now, and Daniel's family is very careful about giving him all of the information he needs to understand how his new sister is coming into their family. The theme of birds that runs through the books ties things together nicely.

Each adoption situation is different, so it's a good idea to take a look at picture books that address the topic before reading them to a child, so that the child's own experience can be reflected. Of course, it's good for children who are not adopted to read about the experience as well, and see that there is not one way for this to occur. Add Whistling for Angela to your list of books about adoption that may also include Katz' Over the Moon, McCutcheon's Happy Adoption Day, and Krishnaswami's Bringing Asha Home.
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