The Picture Book Buzz

I Am A Bird - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

In the interest of full disclosure, Hope Lim is a critique partner and I had the pleasure of watching some of this book's development.


Though I might be slightly biased, I think you'll admit that this is a sweet, lyrical, sparsely worded picture book which celebrates the joy of childhood and imagination. While also examining "the fear of others," of anything different or unknown. And the wild mistaken impressions that our imaginations can sometimes create.


I Am A Bird


Author: Hope Lim


Illustrator: Hyewon Yum


Publisher: Candlewick Press 2021


Ages: 3-7


Fiction


Themes:

First impressions, kindness, imagination, and worries.


Synopsis:

On her daily bike ride with her dad, a bird-loving little girl passes a woman who frightens her—until she discovers what they have in common.


I am a bird. Ca-Caw! Ca-Caw!


Every day, a little girl rides to school on the back of her father's bike. As they twist and turn through the streets, the little girl spreads her arms like wings and sings her birdsong for all to hear. But when they pass a strange woman in blue who carries a mysterious bag, the girl goes quiet until the woman is out of sight. One day, when they’re running late, the little girl discovers what the woman does with her bag each morning—a surprise that transforms her wariness into a feeling of kinship to be celebrated. Hope Lim’s simple text and Hyewon Yum’s delicate, expressive illustrations create a touching story that encourages readers to embrace our similarities rather than focus on our differences.


Opening Lines:

I am a bird.

Every morning, I fly like a bird on Daddy's bike.


Ca-Caw! Ca-Caw!


What I LOVE about this book:

A little girl imagines she's a bird, stretching her arms and feeling the rush of the wind, as her dad pedals their bike to school. Every day, she flies and sings. And the birds sing back. She enjoys spreading her joy by smiling and waving to everyone they pass.

Text © Hope Lim, 2021. Image © Hyewon Yum, 2021.


But one day, she sees someone "different." Someone who doesn't interact, but quickly walks away. I love Hyewon Yum's encapsulation of the girl's fears and worries - which her imagination produces when she sees this woman - as a superimposed misty grey space on a brick wall, inhabited by a child's chalk drawings of scary monsters. The next day, the girl clings to her dad's shirt, as they pass the woman again and the monsters on the wall get bigger.

Text © Hope Lim, 2021. Image © Hyewon Yum, 2021.


For days, the girl continues to worry and the monsters grow bigger and scarier. What if she's not just "a lady talking a walk"? Until one day, running late for school, the girl makes a discovery . . .


You're going to have to read the book to see what the girl discovers about the woman, herself, and the problem with judging others by their appearance. I love the joyous celebration on the two ending spreads. And I think the happiness, freedom, and imagination that radiates through the text and the images will warm the hearts of readers.


It is a deceptively simple book, with gorgeous soft, colored pencil and gouache illustrations that celebrates imagination and invites honest, open communication (instead of fearful first impressions) to discover all the ways that we are all more alike than different. Hopefully helping foster a kinder, gentler way of interacting with each other.


Resources:

- make your own bird feeder from an egg carton (https://oaklandlibrary.org/teens/events-programs/teen-pop-crafts-home/make-your-own-bird-feeder-egg-carton).

© M Marshall


- listen to the birds at your feeder, in your yard, or at a nearby park. Can you imitate them? Can you identify them? Check out The Cornel Lab of Ornithology's "How to Learn Bird Songs & Calls" (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/how-to-learn-bird-songs-and-calls/).


- have you ever pretended to fly - swooping down hill on skis/snowboard, floating in a swing, or spinning on a carousel? Draw a picture of you flying or write a poem about how it felt to "fly."


- did you ever misjudge someone? Write a list, or draw a picture, of what you first thought and what you discovered about someone when you got to know them.


If you missed it, be sure to check out Monday's joint interview with Hope Lim (here).


This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall
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