Saturday, March 31, 2012

Picture Books: Birds and Independence

Spring is definitely here.  It really has been here since January!  We’ve barely had a cold day.  I am not complaining though!   With spring come books on animals and seasonal changes.  I have a couple books on birds today.  They are not directly about spring, but they could certainly fit since the activity of birth and leaving the nest often takes place during the season.

Blue the Bird on Flying (by Becky Due)   
Blue hatches from an egg and grows up.   He does not want to fly on his own though.  Instead, he rides on the backs of other birds.  Needless to say, his friendship circle dwindles because others get tired of carrying him around.  They move on to fly with other birds that are experiencing life to its fullest.  Blue decides to make friends with a bird flying by.  After jumping unannounced on the young bird’s back, they quickly begin to fall.  Before they can crash, Blue spreads his wings to carry the young bird to safety.   Blue realizes not only can he fly, but it is fun and exciting.   He travels to places he never dreamed existed. 

Blue the Bird on Flying is a metaphor to teach children the importance of growing up and becoming independent.  Sometimes the possibility of going off to kindergarten or spending the night at a friend’s house is scary.  If they never venture out, they will miss out on all the possibilities.   I also saw this book as a political and social parable.  When adults stop expecting others/the government to carry them around, they will gain independence, self-respect, and fulfilled dreams that are not possible with dependence.  This book has the possibility to translate to a wide array of ages and situations. 

If I Never Forever Endeavor (by Holly Meade)  
Following a similar situation as the aforementioned book, this selection is written in poetic form.  It begins with a young bird in his comfortable nest contemplating:

If in all of forever,
I never endeavor
to fly, I won’t know if I can. 
I won’t know if I can’t.

He looks down at the frightening distance to the ground.  Then, he imagines two possibilities:  failure or freedom.   Next, he pictures himself seeing the world or getting lost.  Safely in his nest, he decides to “forget the endeavor.”  But then, he sees other birds soaring and swooping through the sky.  Realizing how much he will miss out on, he leaves the nest.  He has some minor setbacks as he spreads his wings, but he soon learns to dip, glide, and fly gracefully through the sky.   The young bird finds another advantage to his new found freedom.  

The illustrations use the neutral and green colors of the forest to contrast nicely with the colorful birds.  The collage and watercolors work together well to create a nice texture and dimension.  I enjoyed the poetic text.  The theme is like Blue the Bird on Flying.   To get most out of life, you need to embrace all that you have been created to do and be.  Part of that journey is taking risks and learning independence. 

Disclaimer: As per FTC guidelines, I received a copy of Blue the Bird on Flying from the publishers in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation. All opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. 

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