A Home for Bird
by Philip C. Stead; illus. by the author
Primary Porter/Roaring Brook 32 pp.
6/12 978-1-59643-711-1 $16.99 g
Stead (author of A Sick Day for Amos McGee, rev. 5/10) returns with another terrific tale of devoted friendship. Starting on the copyright page, we see a little bird thrown from the back of a stuffed-to-the-gills moving truck. This little wooden blue bird with button eyes soon meets a toad named Vernon, who seems to know that the mute and inanimate Bird is lost and in search of a home, and who sets off to help Bird find that home. Stead’s loose-edged watercolor, ink, and crayon illustrations are delightfully casual, with an emotional quality that draws the reader to identify with these two friends, especially the dedicated Vernon. And he is dedicated, even hijacking a red balloon to help them float on the wind in their search. There is so much visual humor here that the reader naturally slows down to enjoy all of it, especially the friends’ encounter with a kind stranger (a weathervane) who points the way home. Follow the weathervane’s arrow to the familiar truck parked in front of a house, a house that careful observers will recognize from earlier in the story. And in that house is a clock, just waiting for its cuckoo. Readers will sigh happily with recognition (not just of the truck, cuckoo clock, and house but also of the gray dog and brown teddy bear, Bird’s old friends) as the story comes full circle. While Vernon sleeps comforted by the tick-tock of the clock, Bird is happy to be tucked up in its top, especially when he pops out at six o’clock with a joyful song after his long silence. “And Vernon was happy.” Stead has crafted an old-fashioned story that speaks directly to the heart but without manipulation, providing comfort and surprise at the same time.