Review Blog

Sep 27 2017

Free as a cloud by Bai Bing

cover image

Ill. by Yu Rong. Starfish Bay Publishing, 2017. ISBN 9781760360351
(Age: 4-6) Free as a cloud is a distinctive picture book, with bold black two dimensional cut-outs dominating the pages, interspersed with soft pencil sketches showing Sweetie the myna bird's experiences in the city. The story told from Sweetie's point of view, describes her thoughts on captivity and freedom. On her flight over a Chinese city, she observes a happy friendly family and she decides to join them. Sweetie loves their kind ways, she has a comfortable cage, great food and a caring home. She is taken on bike rides through the town, eats sweet juicy fruit, but something makes her unhappy. Sweetie suffers from melancholy and loses her desire to sing. 'I don't want to be a sad bird trapped in a cage.'
When the family realises their much-loved pet is sad, they try to help her, and all their friends come over with their pets for a wonderful party. Sweetie's family finally realises she needs to return to her jungle home, filled with colourful flowers. As the jungle animals watch, she flies happily into the sky greeting the clouds, joyfully singing to the other birds.
Free as a Cloud has a simple straightforward text, which sometimes sounds a little formal. The illustrations lift the story, so much action and activity, represented by the characters' silhouettes in the foreground with colourful vignettes of everyday life adding depth to the bold illustrations. With the themes of captivity and freedom, this picture book is suited to readers from 4-6.
Rhyllis Bignell

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