The Dead Bird by Margaret Wise Brown

The Dead Bird by Margaret Wise Brown

The Dead Bird by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Christian Robinson (InfoSoup)

This is a reillustrated edition of the classic picture book by Margaret Wise Brown. In the story, a group of children find a dead bird in the park. They check for a heartbeat but don’t find one. They are very sorry the bird has died and decide to have a funeral for it. So they dig a hole and fill it with sweet ferns and flowers. The sing a song and cry a bit too. Then they head off to play. They do visit for awhile, bringing fresh flowers to the little grave, and they slowly stop remembering to come.

This is such an honest book about death and grief. It captures that intense wave of sorrow upon finding a dead animal, the immediate connection children have to that creature and the importance of following through in a process of loss. The writing is superb, capturing these complex feelings but also not endowing them with too much weight. There is also a feeling of time passing and life moving on, even though the sadness was so large at first.

Robinson’s illustrations are engagingly simple with whimsical touches. One of the children wears butterfly or fairy wings as they play and another is in a fox mask and tail. They have a large dog along with them and a kite to fly. The children have the friendly expressions of Fisher Price dolls, a curve of smile and dot eyes. The illustrations show the same kind of frankness that marks the text as well.

Refreshingly honest and forthright, this picture book is a smart reworking of a classic story that will resonate with today’s children. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Little One by Jo Weaver

Little One by Jo Weaver

Little One by Jo Weaver (InfoSoup)

As Big Bear leaves her den in the spring, she has a tiny baby cub along with her. The two explore their world together as the baby bear learns to survive in the landscape. They swim together, eat berries, catch fish and play. The baby bear grows and thrives alongside Big Bear. The seasons keep changing from spring to summer to the blustery weather of autumn and the geese flying overhead. Big Bear leads her Little One back to their den, but not before they take a long last look at their world, sitting on a high hill and seeing the water, the forest and their domain below.

The text of this picture book is gentle and lovely. The tone is pure warmth and care, a mother bear who is not going to leave her little one’s side and one who is dedicated to the safety and growth of her little cub. The text celebrates the connection between the two bears and then their connection to the natural world around them. It’s a touching look at a family and then at their world too.

The illustrations are simply stunning. Done in charcoal, they are filled with light, with flowers that seem to bob on the page. Often there are sprigs of leaves and grass done in white in the foreground, caught in a sunbeam coming from off the page. This luminous effect is particularly effective and breathtaking.

A simple and gorgeous book about mothers and children and the incredible beauty of nature. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.