North, South, East, West
by Margaret Wise Brown; illus. by Greg Pizzoli
Primary Harper/HarperCollins 40 pp.
1/17 978-0-06-026278-5 $17.99
Pizzoli’s digital illustrations for this never-before-published text by Margaret Wise Brown follow a little red bird whose mother sings to her about taking flight. She sets out exploring the North, South, and West before she finally returns to the East, because “the East was home.” Her travels inspire Pizzoli’s depictions of an icy arctic landscape in the North, a lush and densely forested southern clime, and finally the coastal West. The bird’s return to the East occasions her meeting with a blue bird who is unmentioned in the text. His pictorial presence helps to then explain the closing scenes in which the red bird sings the song her mother sang to her while she sits on a nest of eggs. And when the three baby birds hatch, they ask their parents, “When we fly away, / which is best, / North, South, East or West?” — which anticipates a closing, wordless image of the edglings in flight. Pizzoli’s style is defined by a bright palette and crisp geometric forms that combine to create a Mid-century modern aesthetic befitting a story written by Brown, the mid-century master of picture-book texts.
From the January/February 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.