How to make a bird by Meg McKinlay

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Illus. by Matt Ottley. Walker Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781925381894.
(Age: children to adults). Highly recommended. How to Make a Bird written by Meg McKinlay is a poignant and striking picture book that would be suitable for readers of any age. The story is of a young girl who creatively constructs a bird from objects she finds in the natural world such as bones, shells and feathers. We see her growing collection of smallish items in an old battered case that she spreads on the floor to choose from in order to enhance her ever-evolving bird. She adds a heart and colour but still the bird sits as cold as a statue. The child knows that to set her bird free she must gather it in to her hands, give it life and gently let it go. This young girl has worked through a design process from the conception of an idea to her final creation. This story shows how even the smallest idea can be transformed into a work of beauty and creativity.
The illustrations by artist Matt Ottley are simply stunning. Muted in tones but steeped in detail they complement the text perfectly. One reading is not enough of this book, there is so much to be gained by poring over each page and searching for more clues to understand the flow of the story. A truly inspiring and gentle read. Teacher's notes are available. Themes: Birds, Ideas, Design, Nature, Imagination, Creating.
Kathryn Beilby