Friday, February 19, 2010
Book Review, Birdsong
I have a new favourite picture book. Seriously! It's Birdsong, written and illustrated by Ellie Sandall, and published by Egmont UK, 2010. I was dusting the bookshelves where my to-be-read pile lurks, when my hand slipped, the book fell open, and I was drawn immediately into a beautiful fantasy. I plonked myself down next to the bookcase, read it, then read it again.
Sandall has kept to minimal, yet meaningful text to produce a picture book that children and adults will love. Her birds are bursting with personality, and each has its own unique call. This is an excellent story to read aloud. I can just imagine most littlies will have it off by heart very soon because of a combination of the bird noises and simple rhyming text.
It's also a great book for students studying visual literacy. The art work just zings off the page. I think kids will enjoy experimenting with collage, crayon and watercolour to try to imitate and innovate on Sandall's style.
What struck me immediately about Birdsong is its potential for performance. It's perfect as a book to read aloud to a group of children, then work together with them to develop a Reader's Theatre. (You can link to my articles about Reader's Theatre 1,and Reader's Theatre 2 and I have three more articles coming soon). The style of the illustrations will definitely inspire young artists to create their own birds, and these would make a wonderful backdrop for your performance. Children will enjoy creating their own soundscapes with bird calls, or you could add another dimension by including movement and body percussion.
Have you ever noticed how youngsters love books with noises they can imitate? Birdsong will be a definite hit with them, I'm sure. I predict some teachers and parents will wish their students had volume buttons. There's also a nice subtle lesson in the book, reminding us that it's not always the biggest and loudest who succeed! Grab Birdsong soon if you want a picture book with fun text, gorgeous illustrations, and an inspiring theme.