cover image I Am a Bird

I Am a Bird

Dana Walrath, illus. by Jaime Kim. Atheneum, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4814-8002-4

In her first picture book, Walrath (Like Water on Stone) writes a free-verse poem that celebrates the way that nouns can become verbs. “I am a bird. I fly.” Readers see a father and a child at the beach. Holding a blanket like wings, the child “flies,” running along the waterline, gazing up at the seagulls. The next page shows that fly can be used in another way, too: “I’m a fly. I land.” Now the child “lands,” setting the family’s blanket underneath their beach umbrella. Kim (La La La: A Story of Hope) uses dynamic swashes of paint for shadows, waves, and clouds. Father and child play on the beach until dusk, then watch the sunset, their bodies aglow in the reds and oranges of the sun. Not all the words of Walrath’s poems are homonyms (“I’m a tug./ I tow./ My toes get tickled by kelp”), and now and then there’s a line that’s strained (“I’m the sea./ I crest./ I’m a crest./ I warn”), but this book is a prompt that can start children off on a search for other words that work in the same way. Ages 4–8. [em](May) [/em]