Wordless books say so much without uttering a single syllable. They challenge us, move us – sometimes to tears, make us laugh or make us feel joyful; they offer us a different way of looking at the world; sometimes they make us feel hurt or anger.
Duncan Annand’s picture book does all these, certainly for me.
Herein we see, simultaneously two threads of interwoven visual narrative, one constructive, the other, in its way destructive, although a construction project is under way. The latter is the work of two eccentric-looking architects.
As the story opens we see the two men busy in the process of destroying what looks like virtually the last remaining tree; a bonfire is ablaze close by and on a branch, a bluebird perches with a twig.
While the men work at bringing cages of brightly coloured parrots and using them to build a circular-based edifice, the bird flies hither and thither building a nest of twigs.
As the construction takes shape its architects perform some perilous climbing and precarious dangling feats to secure the cages in place.
All the while the bird keeps a watchful eye on the process.
By the time the dome is atop the enormous aviary – for that is what is being built – the bird has laid her eggs.
Job done all round. The men certainly appear to think so as they enter their edifice.
Not so the bird however; she has one final act to perform and it’s one of both liberation and entrapment …
Like the architects in his story, Duncan Annand has set the bar incredibly high for his debut picture book that tells a cleverly constructed, enormously satisfying story of environmental vandalism, just desserts and freedom.
This is most definitely a book for all ages and all people in all places. Like those parrots on the final spread, it’s one to make both hearts and imaginations take flight, particularly, the final denouement.