Book: A Home for Bird
Author: Philip C. Stead
Age Range: 3 to 8
A Home for Bird by Philip C. Stead just won the Cybils Award for Fiction Picture Books published in 2012. I was one of the Round 2 judges who selected this title from among the seven fabulous shortlist titles (more on the others later). Here's what we wrote about A Home for Bird in the blurb for the Cybils website:
"A Home for Bird is a character-driven story about a frog named Vernon who sets off on a perilous journey to help his silent friend find home and happiness. Vernon is a loyal protagonist with whom preschoolers will easily relate. A Home for Bird offers an engaging read-aloud experience, with ample opportunity for audience participation, and a narrative with both subtle humor and charm. Stead's vibrant and fluid illustrations are a perfect match to the story, and will have young listeners clamoring for parents, teachers, and/or librarians to "read it again!""
What more is there to add, really? As required to win a Cybils Award, A Home for Bird is both kid-friendly and well-written. It is eminently read-aloud-able, with a deadpan humor that will please children as well as adults. Like this:
"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."
The humor is enhanced because the reader can tell, even if Vernon can't, that Bird is made of wood, and is thus hardly likely to respond to questions. I personally love how Vernon uses Bird's silence to attribute good qualities to him. "Bird is shy... but also a very good listener." And, when Bird has to response to a somewhat perilous situation, "Bird is very brave."
Stead's illustrations in A Home for Bird are simply magical. He uses vibrant colors and sweeping textures to bring Vernon and Bird's story to life. There's a deliberately unfinished quality to the pictures that I think makes them particularly accessible to younger readers, more so than something glossy and with every detail already filled in. They have a quality almost as though a child might have drawn them - and I mean that in the best possible way.
A Home for Bird is probably best suited to 3 to 5 year olds, in terms of both the illustration style and straightforwardness of the story. I think that kids of this age group will identify with Vernon's attempts to be a good friend, even as they feel pleasingly superior because they "get" the joke. The illustrations will have them poring over A Home for Book with rapt attention. You can't go wrong putting this book in the hand of any preschooler. A Home for Bird gets my very highest recommendation.
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (@MacKidsBooks)
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Source of Book: Purchased for Round 2 in Fiction Picture Books for Cybils
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