Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Children’s Book Review, A Bag and a Bird

Reviewed by Susan Stephenson,

A Bag and a Bird is a children’s picture book with an environmental theme by Pamela Allen, published by Viking (2017.) RRP: $Au 24.99 HB. Allen’s Shhh! Little Mouse has previously been reviewed at The Book Chook by JB Rowley.

From the publisher:

This is a story of a plastic bag and a bird - a cautionary tale about taking care of our environment as well as being a wonderful showcase of some of the famous sights of Sydney.

'One day, a long time ago when I lived in Kirribilli, Sydney, I packed a lunch and set out to walk to the Botanic Gardens . . .

I crossed the harbour bridge then climbed down to Circular Quay. I walked beside the sea wall, past the Opera House until I reached the Botanic Gardens.

And this is what I saw.'

I like the way Allen uses a true story to grab our interest and nudge us toward thinking about looking after nature and our environment. In the book we get to see Mum and John participating in an everyday activity that kids will recognise - packing a picnic and going for a walk. They notice Sydney icons like the Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay and the Opera House. And they notice birds like seagulls and sacred ibis squabbling over the plastic bag that John’s sandwiches were in. Most kids will recognise the birds and perhaps have opinions about how readily they have adapted to an urban environment.

I also love the way it is an elderly gentleman who saves the ibis that becomes entangled with one of the bags, much to his wife’s consternation. And then John himself saves the day when the bag tries to escape again. Subtly Allen shows us that no matter what our age, we can ALL make a difference by having an attitude of helpful respect. There is drama, humour and lots of opportunities for discussion in this book. The watercolour illustrations are rather lovely, and I particularly like the map of the journey John and Mum made in the endpapers.

A Bag and a Bird would make an excellent model for a lesson about true stories, re-told. It’s also a definite contender for a resource box of books with an environmental theme. In fact, I will be adding this book to my own list of Children’s Picture Books that Focus on Environment.

Find more Children's Book Reviews on The Book Chook by clicking Reviews in the right sidebar.

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