Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Monday, February 24, 2014

Something Is Missing

Day after day after day, it shakes trees, funnels down the chimney, swirls among snow, leaves or grass and shifts everything within its grasp.  You get so accustomed to the sound and feel of its presence, its absence is startling.  You step outside fully expecting it, but are greeted with stillness and silence.

Boaters who sail and travelers who use hang gliders depend on it.  All kinds of animals rely on it; most notably birds.  In Bluebird (Simply Read Books, January 2014) written and illustrated by Lindsey Yankey while a small winged being is searching for one thing, another is surprisingly discovered.

Early one spring morning, a little bluebird woke up in her nest eager to fly.

Immediately she noticed something was not quite right.  The wind, a constant companion every other time she had flown, was gone.  From her perch above the park she began looking for her pal.

From the seeds of dandelions, to a park bench and then a graceful old willow, not a breath of air was stirring.  What was observed yesterday was not to be found today.  Did the wind take a vacation into the city?

Newspaper pages are turned by human hands with no help from the wind.  A vendor's scarves hung straight with no colors fluttering.  Was nothing carrying a balloon, drying the laundry in the alleyway or helping boats to glide across the pond?

Searching with no success, the bluebird tried one more spot.  As luck would have it, her friend was not there either.  Wondering how she could fly without the wind, she realized where she was.  When you least expect it, goals are achieved.

In a mix of narrative and voiced thoughts, debut author illustrator Lindsey Yankey spins a story gliding from page to page as easily and gently as a feather on a soft breeze.  Her word choices evoke the actions of flight and searching; take off, landed, hurried, left, visited and reached.  Imagery created by her descriptions of the wind is delightfully exquisite.  Here is a single passage.

Maybe the wind was hiding somewhere higher.  Sometimes she had seen it dancing with brightly colored balloons, dipping and spinning them high in the sky.

This title has no dust jacket but images from within the story grace the front and back cover.  A wide "bluebird" blue cloth spine separates the two. Endpapers feature an "Old World" cityscape in warm shades of tan, a gauzy white and a lighter blue.  There is a wide margin of the lighter tan at the top of both the opening and closing endpapers.  On the final page the bluebird is flying high up in the upper right-hand corner.

Using mixed media collage, Lindsey Yankey, for each of the two-page spreads throughout, introduces readers to her stunning, unique style.  The world of Bluebird is like no other.  Delicate scroll work, leaves and dandelion seeds are mixed with what appears to be block printing.  To illustrate a transition, part of the illustration is side-ways on the left to a straight-on view on the right.  Rich and warm colors welcome readers into this singular work of art.  Beautiful typography is used to highlight key words on each page.

One of my favorite pictures is of the little bluebird among the dandelions.  Each dandelion is different but the same in that you have no doubt what they are.  Bluebird is situated among them almost as if she is a flower also.  Designs and textures from the title page are shown on the left, side-ways.

A story of a missing friend found and of confidence gained, Bluebird by Lindsey Yankey is pure pleasure.  It is a quiet, thoughtful story wrapping around you like a warm hug.  This is a book meant to be shared anytime with anyone.  I think it would pair nicely with Bob Staake's wordless picture book, Bluebird.  Comparing the two would promote great discussions.

Please follow the links embedded in Lindsey Yankey's names above to her website and blog.  This link is to the publisher's website where additional pages can be viewed.  Follow this link to an interview of Lindsey Yankey at Sturdy for Common Things.

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