The Brave Little Parrot

Rafe Martin, Author, Susan Gaber, Author, Susan Gaber, Illustrator Putnam Publishing Group $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-22825-4
Perseverance saves the day in this graceful retelling of a traditional jataka tale from India. Martin (The Rough-Face Girl) employs a direct, engrossing style to tell this story of a small gray parrot's battle against a raging forest fire. Gaber's (Bit by Bit) dense brushstrokes portray the tropical flora and fauna threatened by the relentless flames, and she heightens the drama by alternating between aerial and ground-level perspectives. The heroic parrot is determined not to escape before helping the animals trapped below. So she carries water, drop by drop, to pour on the fire, endangering her own life. Her persistence pays off when a god who pities her cries torrential tears that avert the impending tragedy. A pleasing whimsy pervades some scenes, such as one in which the parrot perches on the head of a surly tiger, and another in which gods and goddesses laze on a cloud, feasting while they comment on the earthly drama below. An author's note explains that jataka tales, which are based on the past lives of Buddha, have been told and retold for 2500 years. This is an elegant continuation of that tradition. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/02/1998
Release date: 03/01/1998
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