Author/illustrator Bob Staake has a high-flying hit on his hands with “Bluebird,” his newest, and most endearing, contribution to children’s literature.
Staake has long been a personal favorite. Two of his previous books, “The Donut Chef,” and “The Red Lemon,” are especially breezy and fun, clever and colorful, peopled with round-headed cartoon characters with big eyes set against flat backgrounds. Staake’s graphics pop, and his rhyme in “The Donut Chef” and “The Red Lemon,” is breezy and melodic.
“Bluebird,” is an endearing tale that opens with spreads of pale blue and gray. Just above a block of skyscrapers readers are introduced to a bright bluebird that spots a sad-looking little boy walking to school. The boy enters his classroom, and the bird perches on a tree, getting a bird’s eye view of the bullying the boy is subjected to.
After school, the boy walks home, despondent and alone, but the bird doesn’t desert him. It swoops and darts about, chirping a welcome, and playing hide and seek with the child. The two become buddies, sharing a cookie and playing in the park, where two other kind children are impressed that the boy not only has a new sailboat, but a bird to share in the fun as well.
Alas, good times can’t last forever. The boy bids the children goodbye, and after a short rest he and the bluebird approach an archway leading to the forested section of the park. With a frightened expression the boy gazes into the shadowy woods, his look foreshadowing trouble at the hands of a gang of ruffians who try to nab the boy’s sailboat. The sticks and the feathers fly…
Beautiful “Bluebird” concludes with an influx of bright colors on the wing and mounds of puffy white clouds—to say more would spoil this lovely story of friendship—a book that speaks volumes without uttering a single word.