cover image Mrs. Meyer, the Bird

Mrs. Meyer, the Bird

Wolf Erlbruch. Orchard Books (NY), $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-531-30017-6

German author/artist Erlbruch brings out the beast in his human characters: in his Leonard, a boy turns into a dog; in this winsome tale, a hausfrau teaches a young bird to fly by doing so herself. The zaftig Mrs. Meyer, in her housedress and apron, doesn't have a birdlike physique or magical powers; in fact, she's so earthbound as to be a champion worrier. However, she's terribly concerned about Lindberg, an abandoned baby blackbird that she nurses back to health. On the day Lindberg earns his wings, Mrs. Meyer climbs a tree and waits beside him. When he sits tight, she ""stepped off the branch and into the air. A gentle breeze caught and held her, not high in the sky but somewhere in the middle between the treetop and the earth below."" Mrs. Meyer gives Lindberg a helpful push, and the tale ends with them both gliding across a city skyline. Erlbruch smoothly shifts from domesticity to surrealism, portraying Mrs. Meyer's flight as wholly appropriate to her mother-hen personality. Ungainly but appealing cartoon portraits of the doting Mrs. Meyer and her optimistic husband create a down-to-earth warmth, grounding this agreeable fantasy in a firm foundation of homey humor. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)