Little Bird

by Germano Zullo, illustrated by Albertine

I'm a big fan of Brooklyn-based publishing company Enchanted Lion, a small family-owned press who claim to sleep with books under their pillows and only publish the ones that invade their dreams. They always have excellent taste in artists and unique storytellers. Their latest release, a prizewinning Swiss import, is no exception.

Little Bird was the winner of the 2011 Prix Sorcières for illustration (the French Caldecott), and reads like a vibrant colored silent film. The scattered text offers philosophical musings about treasuring the little things in life that often go unnoticed, but the pictures themselves do all the storytelling.

A man drives his truck to a cliff's edge, opens the back door and sets loose an assortment of strange and exotic birds. But before heading home, he discovers one small, nervous bird has stayed behind. A touching chumminess develops between the two, as the man patiently makes efforts to boost the small bird's confidence.

What's truly wonderful about Little Bird is the leisurely pace in which it unfolds, a refreshing aspect that's accomplished in part by the luxury of 72 pages (32 being the typical picture book page count).

Eventually, after sharing a sandwich, some laughs, and just hanging out, the once timid bird takes to the air and flies away, and the man drives off in his truck. But then the bird returns with his friends for a miraculous and totally unexpected ending.

Little Bird is the type of book I love almost immediately, but then get nervous it won't strike a chord with my kids. Nevertheless, during our first read through, my four-year-old smiled the whole time, and at the end further confirmed his approval with one word. "Again?"

(Images: Ben Partridge)