How to Make a Bird

Meg McKinlay, illus. by Matt Ottley. Candlewick, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1526-7
An elegant, confident voice narrates this gently uncanny second-person-perspective book, following a brown-haired, light-skinned child who builds a bird from scraps, watches it come alive, and sets it free. Living apparently alone in a haphazard, Studio Ghibli–esque building atop Dalí-like legs, the child gathers things into a basket from the beach below as the narrator relays the steps: collecting bones; smoothing feathers over them; and giving the bird a heart, extremities, a song. McKinlay’s tone is stately, the pace deliciously deliberate—“But when you see it sitting,/ cold as a statue, you will know/ that there is more to a bird than/ these things you have given it”—allowing space for readers to savor Ottley’s luminous pigmented ink illustrations, which reveal extratextual details, for example about the child’s bird-making materials. A beautiful rumination on creating. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 06/10/2021
Release date: 04/20/2021
Genre: Children's
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