In case you didn’t get a chance to check yesterday, here are the CYBILS 2012 winners! It was a great privilege to participate as one of the 2nd round judges for the fictional picture book category. I felt it was only fitting to review the book we chose as the winner for today’s perfect picture book!
By Philip C. Stead
Published by Roaring Book Press, 2012
Themes: Friendship, home, toads, birds
Awards: 2012 Cybils Winner for the category fictional picture books
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.
Vernon, the toad, is out and about looking for things to collect when he comes across a blue bird, who appears to be lost, though it is hard to be sure as Bird never replies to Vernon’s gentle questions. Vernon, being a friendly toad, shows his new friend around and introduces him to his other buddies, a skunk and a porcupine.
Vernon takes his friendship with Bird very seriously and concerned that Bird’s silence may be due to homesickness, sets out with Bird to find Bird’s home. Vernon shows Bird a cage, a nest, and many other living options, asking Bird each time if this is home. Vernon becomes quite downcast and not being able to help his friend, but he is determined and inventive and they set off again, by air this time, in search of Birds home. The search continues into the evening by which time Vernon is exhausted and they stop at a house for the night. Vernon tucks Bird into the upstairs room in a little house he finds on a wall in the house. Tick, tock, Tick, tock – have they found Bird’s home?
Why I like this book:
It is very easy to miss the first illustration, which somewhat precedes the start of the story and text. This is of an old open-back truck loaded with chairs, carpets, lamps etc and an old clock. I would open this page first, with a child, to see what they observe, then move onto the opening lines of the next page. I say this, because I missed this on my first reading and thus the end was a complete surprise to me, and just delightful!
My absolutely favorite line in the story is when Vernon, introduces Bird to Skunk and Porcupine: “Bird is shy,” said Vernon, “but also a very good listener”.
Preschoolers will love Vernon’s loyalty and thoughtfulness and adults and children will adore the charm and humour of this story. Stead’s warm, fluid crayon and gouache illustrations, with fun details like Skunk and Porcupine tied up in a yoyo, marry perfectly with this text. It is a story full of heart and those great qualities of a repeatedly read-aloud picture book. It is a book that manages both simplicity and complexity at the same time and left me with a warm afterglow.
Carter Higgins looks in detail at the illustrations of A HOME FOR BIRD on her website, Design of the Picture Book.
Philip Stead has a great youtube video on A HOME FOR BIRD.
And just for fun, some cuckoo clocks usurped by other critters – here.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.