Jack and Jim

Kitty Crowther, Author
Kitty Crowther, Author Hyperion Books $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7868-0614-0
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-0-7868-2527-1
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-0-7868-1439-8
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Diversity looms large in this understated, provocative look at the friendship between a blackbird and a seagull. Jack, a forest bird with dark feathers and a bright-red T-shirt, yearns to explore the ocean. He ventures to a pebbly beach where he meets Jim, a white-feathered bird wearing a sailor's blue-and-white stripes. Jim invites Jack home to his port, but Jack grows uncomfortable at the other gulls' stares. "" `It must be the first time they've ever seen a blackbird,' said Jim. `I guess they're curious about you.' "" In fact, the gulls dislike Jack for reasons they don't quite articulate (""Who's that funny bird?"" asks one). Jack endures their scowls and upturned beaks out of loyalty to his friend, and ultimately gains acceptance by demonstrating a skill the gulls lack: an ability to read. Although sensitive to Jack and Jim's dilemma, Belgian author Crowther doesn't cover all the bases. When Jim visits Jack's forest home, no blackbirds appear to welcome (or reject) him. Nevertheless, Crowther's childlike ink-and-watercolor sketches--presented as six-to-a-spread miniatures and full-page illustrations--powerfully convey the volatile situation and wordlessly show a child-seagull learning from the loaded interactions. This gentle, allusive tale might be a parable about race, immigration, friendship or romance, and that rich ambiguity is its strongest suit. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
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