I Am a Bird by Hope Lim, illustrated by Hyewon Yum (9781536208917)
Every morning a little girl flies like a bird on the back of her father’s bicycle. She sings like a bird too with a “Ca-Caw!” of delight. Along the way, they wave at the people they pass who smile and wave back. Then one morning, the little girl glimpses a person hurrying through the streets with a large bag. The woman doesn’t wave or smile at all. They see her the next day too, and the little girl doesn’t wave or smile at her this time. What could the woman be doing? Where is she headed in such a hurry day after day? The little girl becomes scared of the woman, since she acts so strangely. But then one day, they discover what the woman has been doing. She has been feeding the birds with a “Chee-chee-chee” quietly whispered to them. Now the little girl is a bird once more.
Lim delicately offers a tale about assumptions that we all make about those around us. Assumptions that can quickly grow to dislike, even though we don’t know the person at all. Told in the first person by the little girl, she explores the confusion and fear caused by a woman rushing past without smiling or waving. The reaction is believable for a small child and also speaks to how humans in general react to those who are different from us.
The art is done in merry colors in colored pencils and gouache. The little girl and her father are particularly bright on the page with their sunny yellow, bright blue and bright red colors. The neighborhood they live in is also part of the story with its seaside, graffiti and close buildings.
A picture book about community and connection. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Maria played in the fields while her parents worked, making clay bowls. When all of them cracked in the sun, she sought help from her Aunt Nicolasa who showed her the ancient Tewa way of making pots using clay mixed with volcanic ash and thanking Mother Earth for sharing clay with them. Maria practiced making pots for months before she was ready to have one fired with her aunt’s. Some pots don’t survive firing, so Maria was pleased when hers came out perfectly from the blaze. Maria grew up, married and had children, never stopping working with clay and pots. In 1908 an archaeologist asked if she could create a pot based on an ancient shard of pottery. Though Maria had never seen such a polished and black pot, she decided to try. After many attempts, her pot came out shiny and black. Maria was able to sell her pottery for the first time and soon they were selling as many as they could create, employing her entire family.
This picture book biography tells the story of an important Native American artist who served as a vital ambassador for the Tewa people and the ancient ways of making pottery. The book is written by one of Maria’s great grandchildren and an art teacher author. Their deep knowledge of Maria and art are evident on the pages with the details shared and the homage to Maria’s dedication for learning and teaching.
The illustrations glow with the sun of New Mexico, combined with deep blue skies and green plants. The illustrations are a stirring combination of the characters and beautiful landscapes full of sunset pinks, purples and oranges.
A lovely tribute to an important Native woman artist. Appropriate for ages 5-9.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Albert Whitman & Company.