Monday, July 16, 2012

Happiness is...a good book (Summer Reading edition #16)

A Home for Bird
Author and Illustrator: Philip C. Stead
Published: 2012
Pages: 32
Age Range: 3+
Genre: Picture book/fiction
Cover Score: ****
Overall Score: *****
Rating: G

First Sentence: Vernon was out foraging for interesting things when he found Bird.

The story begins on the publication page with an illustration showing a small wooden bird being bounced from his cuckoo clock and off the back of a moving truck.  The text introduces us to Vernon, a toad who finds Bird. While Bird is unresponsive to all of Vernon's questions Vernon is patient and a good friend, introducing him to porcupine and skunk, taking him with on his adventures but finally deciding that perhaps he's sad because he misses his home. So, they ready a boat and leave home and Vernon's old friends trying many new places to live but none seem quite right. Bird still says nothing and Vernon is sad. Eventually with the help of a rooster (weather vane) they find a small house with a truck outside and a battered cuckoo clock inside.  Vernon fixes up the door and settles in amongst the ticking innards and in the morning all is well!  It’s a lovely little tale of friendship.

I love Stead’s illustrations.  They are sketchy and imperfect (which makes them perfect!)  Vernon is reminiscent of Frog and Toad and he is just so genuine and sincere.  One could only hope to have a friend as loyal and willing to turn each of our quirks and flaws into a positive trait; when Bird fails to answer Vernon declares him ‘shy’ and ‘brave’ and he readily sacrifices and sets off into the unknown for someone who has given him next to nothing in return.

Vernon does get discouraged but he’s also very determined and this loyalty and determination pay off in the end with an exuberant image of triumph on the closing page. It’s simply told with no wasted words or actions and each illustration carefully adding charm to the already charming story.  Highly recommended!

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