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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Bluebird, written and illustrated by Bob Staake. Schwartz & Wade, Random House. 2013. $21.00 ages 5 and up

A boy who seems lonely.

A small new friend.

A fearful encounter.

A test of friendship.

A flight of imagination!

This wordless tale packs a punch! As a shy and somewhat anxious boy makes his way home following his first day at school, he doesn't notice the small blue bird that has been hovering all day. When he does, the bird chirps and follows him. As they spend time together, the boy cheers up!

After some games of hide and seek and a shared cookie, the bird leads him to the sailboat pond, encouraging him to find friends in the children who are also playing there. The young boy enjoys the play and the company. As he leaves he smiles and waves goodbye. Off he and the bluebird go, with even more adventures to share.

The scene darkens when the boy and bird near a bridge and an eerily quiet forest path. The bird looks on as the boy is threatened by a gang of bullies who want his sailboat. The boy breaks free. One of the other boys hurls a stick at him, striking and killing the bluebird by mistake. The bullies run (as bullies often do) and the boy is left to deal with the bleak aftermath. That is, until a flock of colorful birds carry the boy and the dead bird he is sheltering away from the scene and into the sky. The bluebird is released to sail high into fluffy white cloud cover...and disappears.

The setting is urban, and very much a Manhattan-like landscape. The colors are cool grays and blues, with framing that is similar to a comic book. By changing the way the pages look, the 'reader' is encouraged to slow down and really pay attention to all that is happening between the boy and his surroundings. The boy's emotions are evident at every turn, allowing for much discussion as the story unfolds. As the action becomes more menacing the color becomes even darker and more somber. Then, there is color and light and hope!

Amazing is all I can say about it. You need to have this book!

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