Bluebird ISBN: 9781783441853
Published by Andersen Press Ltd, 2014
This achingly beautiful, wordless picture book is like nothing I have seen before. It captures loneliness and sadness and friendship in a dramatically moving way and gives great pause for thought. A very shy young boy must start at a new school in New York City, and he cannot make friends. The other children don't seem to notice him. He is deeply unhappy, and on his way home, he notices that a little bird is following him; in fact, the bird has been with him all day, seeing his plight. At first the lad can't quite believe that the bird is staying with him, but then they begin to play games with each other, and he realises he has a true friend. He buys a cookie in the market and shares crumbs with the bird, and in the park they buy a boat for sailing on the pond, and the little bird rides happily on top of the sail. It even rides on the little boy's shoulder and perches on his hand. Other children at the pond are fascinated by this friendship and it begins to look like the little boy might be able to make some new friends after all. But then tragedy strikes. A gang of bullies try to take the boat away from the boy, and in the fracas that follows, the bird is killed. Having seen what they have done, the bullies run off, but the boy is completely bereft. There is a happy ending when brightly-coloured birds fly down one by one and carry the boy up to the sky where his friend becomes alive again and flies up into the heavens. The pictures are completely original in a quasi-comic style using panels in white, black, grey and light blue until the final pages when the colourful birds appear. The loneliness of the boy is perfectly matched by the colour scheme, and it is hard to express just how moving this story is. It won't appeal to everyone, but to sensitive older children and to adults as well, it speaks volumes.