Bluebird

Bob Staake. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-87037-8
In this wordless story, a shy boy finds a winged mentor in a cheery bluebird. The bird helps the boy perk up after a rough day at school and then connects him to some friendly children at a sailboat pond. But when bullies kill the bird—a truly shocking moment—the story sheds its simple yearning and wishfulness (with the bird as a kind of feathered fairy godmother) and deepens into an eloquent affirmation of love, faith, and the persistence of goodness. Staake (Bugs Galore!) propels his story forward with steady assurance, using a largely gray palette, geometric shapes, and comics-style framing. He vividly evokes a Manhattanlike landscape that’s overwhelming, yet full of potential, and he gives full visual voice to the boy’s emotions; there are several moments when Staake stops the action and lets his audience savor how the bird has transformed the boy. It’s possible (though not necessary) to attach the suggestion of an afterlife to the final pages, but believers and skeptics alike will find something deeply impressive and moving in this work of a singular, fully committed talent. Ages 4–8. Agent: Gillian Mackenzie, Gillian Mackenzie Agency. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/25/2013
Release date: 04/09/2013
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