A Home for Bird by Philip C. Stead
Vernon, the toad, was out finding interesting things when he met Bird. Bird wasn’t much for talking, not responding to anything that Vernon said, not even when he introduced Bird to his friends, Skunk and Porcupine. Despite his silence (and his stiffness and button eyes) Vernon proceeded to show Bird around the river and forest. But when Bird didn’t react even to watching clouds together, Vernon started to worry that Bird was depressed. So Vernon and Bird set out to help Bird find his home. They looked at all sorts of homes, but none of them were right for Bird. Then they came to a small blue house where they decided to stop for the night. In the house was another small house, a cuckoo clock, up on the wall. And that was where Bird and Vernon spent the night. Until in the morning, Bird finally found his voice.
Stead writes and illustrates with a wonderful charm. His writing is so solid that it is a joy to read aloud. The story is carefully crafted and then playfully told, making for a book that is a pleasure to share. Vernon is a character that children will relate easily and happily to. Bird will immediately be recognized for the toy he is, but the story is less about that mistake by Vernon and more about the journey to find where Bird belongs.
The illustrations have a wonderful freedom to them, filled with swirls of color, that fill the air and cover the walls. Stead draws the main characters with detailed fine lines, but their world is a more childlike, looser scrawl that reveals trees, flowers and dirt. The way the detail plays against the less structured backgrounds adds to the cheer of the title.
Finding ones home, friendship and a grand quest fill this picture book to the brim and combine wonderfully with the charm of the illustrations. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.