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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Lion and the Bird (The)
by Marianne Dubuc
Age Range: 6-8
Lion is doing a spot of gardening one autumn day when he looks up and sees a flock of birds flying overhead. Then he notices that one of them has fallen to the ground. The bird has a broken wing and Lion takes it upon himself to care for his new friend. Soon the pair are whiling away winter evenings sharing stories in front of the fire and taking sleigh rides. Then spring arrives and so too do the other birds. Will Lion and Bird finally have to say goodbye?
The Lion and the Bird is a poignant story of a lion and a bird who form an unlikely friendship by award-winning French-Canadian Marianne Dubuc and translated by Sarah Ardizzone. Originally published in Canada, it has won rave reviews and sold over 20,000 copies in the US in 2015.
At first glance, it may appear a simple tale of friendship, but this is a clever, sophisticated picture book. With a minimum of text it is the illustrations that speak volumes. Many pages have no text at all so it almost acts as a wordless picture book leaving the reader to experience the emotion through the artwork. Several pages are devoid of text and artwork at all, (unusual in a picture book), which merely emphasises even more starkly the desolation and loneliness that Lion feels at the absence of his friend.
The soft, delicate illustrations, with their small details are heart-warming: whether it is the depiction of the deep friendship of the two animals such as Bird tucked up in one of Lion’s slippers at night, hiding in his woolly hat when they venture out in the snow, or the pathos of a diminutive Lion set against a sea of white Lion next to an empty black white page as he is left alone.
A gentle universal tale of friendship, love and loss.