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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hello, My Name is Ruby, written and illustrated by Philip C. Stead. A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2013. $18.99 ages 3 and up

"Ruby sang a sad song.

She sang and sang until
the sun came out and her
feathers were dry.

Along came a curious bird.

Ruby tried to be brave.
"Hello, my name is Ruby.
Do you have a name?"

Do you happen to be looking for a new friend?

I didn't know that I was, until I met Ruby. She is a delight, and just the kind of friend that anyone would be happy to have. She is tiny, quiet in the best way, and very, very brave. She wants new friends, so she sets about introducing herself to everyone she meets. She appreciates these new friends for their ability to teach her unknown things. Ruby is a learner who asks questions to satisfy her curious nature and to learn about the world.

When she talks with a tiny bird who is perched upon a giraffe's  horn, she wonders how it feels to be so small when everything around is so big! The tiny bird shows Ruby why she doesn't always feel so small:

When she meets a peacock who prefers not to be her friend, Ruby is saddened. She bursts into a sad song. An empathetic bird hears her song, recognizes her name, and is able to introduce her to a flock of identical birds. Ruby has found family; but, she is anxious to introduce them to the many new friends she has met on her journey.

Some of my favorite and most shared books over the past few years are those created by Philip Stead. This charming tale of a tiny bird with chutzpah now joins them. Outgoing, social children will see themselves in Ruby as they share her story...willing to talk with those they meet, and anxious to learn about the world. For them, this is a 'mirror' book.

The outstanding illustrations are done in mixed media, using chalk pastel, colored pencils, and some colored inks. He is incredibly adept at creating perfection between the text and the visual interpretation of it; this new book continues that trend. The story is full of special moments. Just spending time with Ruby, her wonderful spirit and her engaging meetings with many new friends will lift your spirit and make your heart sing.

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