People hurried in both directions down the sidewalk, trying to move around each other with their bulky shopping bags, checking messages on their phones, gazing straight ahead, never looking down. My daughter and I spotted the bird, lying on its side, an inch beyond the full swing of the door that let shoppers in and out. I grabbed my daughter’s hand and returned to our car to gather supplies: a padded lunch box for medical items I dumped out in the trunk, and a t-shirt that could be washed later.
Nobody paid attention to us as I scooped up the bird in the shirt, rolled the fabric around its quivering body, and spoke gently to its watchful eyes. “It’s going to be okay. I’m here. We’re going to find you someplace where you’ll be safe.” His heart pulsed against my palm.
I set the wrapped bird inside of the medical box to keep it quiet and still on our drive away from the stream of shoppers. My daughter held the box on her lap and spoke to the bird as I drove to a nearby field. There, I held it close and caressed my hand over the shirt, holding the wings close to its body. The bird turned his head, which told me he hadn’t flown into a window and broken his neck. His alert eyes took in his surroundings, telling me he wasn’t dazed. His feet pushed against the fabric. Strong. All signs he wasn’t badly hurt.
We unwrapped the bird. He perched on the shirt and looked around for quite some time as we sat near him, but not too close. After twenty minutes, he spread his wings, gave a test flap, and flew up into the sky. I couldn’t hold back my smile on the drive home with my daughter, forgetting we had come out that day to do some shopping. It didn’t matter. Better than coming home with milk and eggs, we came home with full hearts, glad we were able to give help where it was needed. This brings me to today’s picture book review about a toad named Vernon who discovers a bird–but not any bird. This wooden bird once lived inside of a clock. But to Vernon, Bird is real and deserving and needs help finding his home.
Title – A Home for Bird
Written and illustrated by – Philip C. Stead
Published by – Roaring Book Press – 2012
Topics – Friendship, compassion, selflessness, and determination.
Opening – Vernon was out foraging for interesting things when he found Bird.
“Are you okay?” asked Vernon.
Bird said nothing.
“Are you lost?”
Bird said nothing.
“You are welcome to join me,” said Vernon.
Synopsis from Amazon – HERE. While out foraging for interesting things, Vernon the toad finds a new friend – a small blue bird who is curiously silent. Vernon shows Bird the river and the forest and some of his other favorite things, but Bird says nothing. Vernon introduces Bird to his friends, Skunk and Porcupine, but Bird still says nothing.
“Bird is shy,” says Vernon, “but also a very good listener.”
Vernon worries that Bird is silent because he misses his home, so the two set off on a journey to help find a home for Bird.
This is a tender tale of a thoughtful friend who is determined to help his quiet companion, by the author of A Sick Day for Amos McGee, winner of the 2011 Caldecott Medal. This title has Common Core connections.
Why I like this book – In addition to the emotional, tender illustrations that will win over the hearts of readers young and old, the story, accompanying the art, introduces a remarkable character named Vernon who shows the reader what it means to be selfless–to put the needs of others before his own. Understanding that Bird, who is made of wood, is new to this part of the world and must, therefore, be lost, Vernon strives to make Bird feel welcomed by introducing him to his friends. But Bird won’t (can’t) speak, and Vernon believes this is because of shyness. Being the amazing think-with-your-heart sort of guy Vernon is, he sets out to help Bird find his way back home. The two set off on a long journey that requires an ingeniously made teacup ship, the trial of many objects Bird can consider living in, a windy balloon ride to a distant farm where new friends await for Vernon to know and maybe, just maybe a home for bird.
AUTHOR and ILLUSTRATOR
Learn more about Philip Stead HERE.
Take a tour of Philip and Erin Stead’s art and writing space, and learn a little about their working style. HERE.
Find instructions on how to make a teacup birdfeeder HERE.
I hope to see you back here on Monday when I share my poem about… a bird.
See you then!