Tuesday, August 7, 2012


A while back, I started this picture book lovefest thing on Facebook called A Children's Book Challenge. All I wanted was for more people to find, love, and share the love about their new, favorite picture books. I still want that, but due to being swamped in deadlines, I had to let that project sit idle for a while. At any rate, I'll try to be better about being on there and sharing my personal new favorites/discoveries. And I still hope for and encourage others to share their favorite new (or newish) titles as well. As part of the program, I'll now do some cross-platforming by doing the same here on my blog and on twitter with the hash tag #childrensbookchallenge. Here is one of my latest pic book loves.

A HOME FOR BIRD by Philip C. Stead (Roaring Brook) The thing that stands out most in Philip Stead's books is his incredibly strong, tasteful, timeless sense of good drawing and design. And sophisticated, and also warm, satisfying storytelling. A HOME FOR BIRD is, for sure, to be added to great Stead books. Our hero, Vernon, a toad, is a bit of a collector and he stumbles across a new curiosity. Or, perhaps, a friend. A bird. Unlike Vernon and his friends, Skunk and Porcupine, Bird is not a real, living creature (he's a charming, homespun, toy-like creation with vacant, button eyes). But Vernon and co. can't tell the difference and they treat him just like one of them. They all think he's lost and Vernon is prepared to do all he can to help Bird find his way back home. What follows, the journey and, ultimately, the resolution, are equally as satisfying as the setup. (As they set sail in a teacup, climb mailboxes, telephone poles, and float high in the sky in a red balloon.) After multiple readings, one of the many things I love here is how Vernon is so sure that Bird is real, and is so devoted to him, that we, the readers, are almost as convinced of this same living, breathing Bird. Or, at the very least, we're certainly convinced of a real, true sense of loyalty, friendship, and overwhelming compassion. Either way, it just feels good.

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