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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)
Tipiti, the Robin
by Rene Guillot
Age Range: 6-8
Mr Bonard is the owner of a bird shop in a small town in the south of France. He has a colourful variety of species in cages from canaries, humming birds, orioles, robins and many others. The caged birds long for freedom and envy the sparrows and pigeons who fly freely outdoors.
There is only one bird who is free in Mr Bonard’s shop, a blackbird called Arthur. He provides news from the outside world to all the other captive birds. One of the cage inhabitants is a small Robin called Tipiti and Mr Bonard recently added a new companion to his cage who Tipiti calls ‘young cousin’. They soon become friends and Tipiti tells him about the life he had when he was free.
Every morning an old man goes down to the town square where he loves to feed all the birds. He then makes a trip to Mr Bonard’s shop in order to purchase two of his birds in order to set them free. All the birds in the shop wait in anticipation for this daily occurrence hoping desperately that it will be their turn to be chosen. Tipiti knows that because of his age he is unlikely to be picked, but his ‘young cousin’ has a strong chance of being selected.
This is a highly sentimental short novel by French author Renč Guillot (1900-1969) written with care and compassion. Charles Keeping’s distinctive black and white illustrations are in perfect synchrony with the narrative, while Gwen Marsh’s translation is fluent, very accessible and easy to read.
Other Guillot titles on the website include: Elephant Road (1959), Nicolette and the Mill (1960), Mokokambo, the Lost Land (1961), Balloon Journey (1964) and Three Girls and a Secret (1964).