CM . . . .
Volume V Number 8 . . . . December 11, 1998
This is the bird that climbed out of the nest and ...Trying out his wings for the first time, Baby Bird flutters to the ground where he walks along, seeking out a high object so that he can climb up and try again. Along the way, the naive tiny bird is sniffed by a squirrel, buzzed by a bee and hopped over by a frog. He is even stalked by a cat that unsuccessfully tries to catch him. Unwittingly avoiding the open mouth of a large sleeping dog, Baby Bird uses the reclining canine as the first step in climbing to the roof of the dog's house where he again tries to fly, this time successfully, albeit somewhat erratically initially.
Ayto's watercolour and ink illustrations, rendered in a cartoon-like style, effectively capture Little Bird's changing emotions, particularly though the depictions of his eyes and beak. Ayto also makes good use of the book's shape which is wider than tall. The horizontal format permits Ayto to, at times, divide his facing pages into a series of four movie-like frames which contribute to the feeling of motion. The double page spread filled by the body of the sleeping dog with its open maw reinforces just how diminutive Baby Bird really is.
From the opening empty sky endpapers to the closing endpapers containing a darting Baby Bird, Dunbar's brief text and Ayto's illustrations together yield a satisfying, warm read for young children.
Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's literature at the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.
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