A Home For Bird

A Home For Bird

Author & Illustrator: Philip C. Stead

Check out the story behind the story in an interview with Mr. Stead at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

Publisher: Roaring Book Press, 2012
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 3-8
Themes: Friendship, Animals, Adventure

Opening Lines:

Vernon was out foraging for interesting things when he found Bird.
“Are you okay?” asked Vernon.
Bird said nothing.
“Are you lost?”
Bird said nothing.
“You are welcome to join me,” said Vernon.

Synopsis (from MacMillan website):
While out foraging for interesting things, Vernon the toad finds a new friend – a small blue bird who is curiously silent. Vernon shows Bird the river and the forest and some of his other favorite things, but Bird says nothing. Vernon introduces Bird to his friends, Skunk and Porcupine, but Bird still says nothing.

“Bird is shy,” says Vernon, “but also a very good listener.”

Vernon worries that Bird is silent because he misses his home, so the two set off on a journey to help find a home for Bird.

This is a tender tale of a thoughtful friend who is determined to help his quiet companion, by the author of A Sick Day for Amos McGee, winner of the 2011 Caldecott Medal.


Excellent classroom discussion questions about foraging/collecting, visual foreshadowing, friendship and more at the The Classroom Bookshelf.

Links on how to make a variety of birdhouses/bird feeders.

Why I Like This Book:

This story reminded of the classic Frog & Toad stories, filled with small adventures, wonder, and most importantly compassion and heart.

The book opens with a picture of the “Careful Moving Co.” on the title page where readers will get visual clues as to the origins of Bird. The story starts with Vernon foraging through the forest for interesting things, when he befriends Bird. They spend time together but Bird is quiet, this worries Vernon who decides he must help Bird find his home.

One of the things that amazed me is that the story was so engaging even though most of the book is filled with just Vernon’s words and thoughts. The repetition of the line “Bird said nothing” was simply perfect. Vernon talking to the Bird reminded me of the way young kids are always in-tune to the needs of their stuffed animals or imaginary friends. I loved the simplicity and richness of this book, it had both.
The story is simple but the depth of compassion Vernon has for Bird as well as the illustrations brought out the richness of this book.
Illustrations are a mixture of crayon and gouache making the art vibrant and child-appealing. A unique characteristic of the art is that he doesn’t always stay within the lines which lends itself to a softer quality. Check out a review of the illustrations by Design of the Picture Book and an interview by Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. See more gorgeous pictures from the book at MacMillan website.

This book is good for storytime. Since the book is not high-energy, I would recommend drawing attention to the visual clues throughout the story and asking questions to keep young kids engaged.

This review is part of Susana Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

NOTE ADDED 10/16/12: This book was nominated by Amy for the 2012 Cybils Awards in the Fiction Picture Book category. I am a second-round judge in this category, but this review reflects my opinions only, not those of any other panelist, or the panel as a whole. Thanks!


25 Comments to “A Home For Bird”

  1. Another wonderful story from Phillip! I do agree that this book has a Frog and Toad feel. Phillip’s books will be those remembered years down the road as favorites. Definitely classics!!

  2. Like the emphasis on compassion and friendship. Such a lovely story about Vernon trying to help bird find a home. Am curious how it ends. Lovely choice today. The illustrations are wonderful.

  3. Loved this story. I to thought of how very young kids love talking to their stuffed animals, and this vision came to my mind as well while reading your lovely review. Cute illustrations. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks. At first I found Vernon’s interactions with Bird a little odd, but then I remembered how my 4yr old would sometimes tell me how her Minnie doll was feeling.

  4. Wow, Philip Stead seems to be everywhere these days! This one looks gorgeous…I’m hoping it appears on the new book shelf at the library soon. I love Frog and Toad.

    • I know. Not sure how he does it. Waiting for my library to get his latest BEAR HAS A STORY TO TELL. You should be able to find this book as it came out this past June.

  5. I really must read this — it sounds like my kind of book. (And I need to know more about Bird!) Thank you for sharing this, Darshana!

  6. Love, love, love the Steads! Haven’t seen this one, but can’t wait to check it out! Thanks, Darshana!

  7. I’ll have to check this out as I love Philip Stead.
    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  8. Oh, I just LOVE the sound of this story! I must read it ASAP! Frog and Toad are among my all-time favorites, and your description of the book as filed with small adventures, wonder, compassion and heart make it sound like the kind of book I love to read and try to write. Thanks for sharing this one, Darshana!

  9. Love the cover! I think I would like this book! 🙂

  10. Thank you for sharing this beautiful book, Darshana! PPBF is giving us an amazing storehouse of the best in picture books! I’m always happy to hear of a story I didn’t know…and there seem to be 1000’s of those. 🙂

    • I know the feeling. I feel sad sometimes that I can’t read all the books on my TBR list.

    • That reminds of of an old Twilight Zone episode with veteran actor Burgess Meredith…he LOVES to read…but never has the time…then an atomic bomb destroys the world and he finds himself in the basement of a library with MILLIONS of books and no one to bother him…but his glasses are broken and without them he cannot see to read. 😦 Perhaps there is a lesson there for all of us…pursue your passion and do what you love. 🙂

  11. This looks like a book I would enjoy. Yes, the illustration reminds me of the classic Frog & Toad stories as well. Thanks for the review!

  12. Hi, Darshana. Hope you are doing well! I love Frog & Toad, so I can identify with your comparison. The cover of the book is stunning, too. Will keep my eye out for it at the bookstore and library!

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