How To Make A Bird

How To Make a Bird
Meg McKinlay and Matt Ottley
Walker Books

This stunner of a book has at its heart, the imagination. It shows through the eyes of a solitary young girl protagonist, the importance of hope and determination in the creative process as you embark on a journey, not entirely sure of where it will lead.

We follow the girl as she collects, designs and builds using hundreds of hollow, light bones (when they rest in your palm you will hardly feel them, she says.) So much the better if they are to become airborne, but that’s kind of getting ahead.

As she lays them out into a bird shape, she contemplates, ‘the proud arch of an eagle, the soft curve of a sparrow’. Maybe, but this is a slow process,

this fashioning into a finished form and it can’t be done without feathers for both warmth and flight

and of course, a fast-beating heart. Then come those finishing touches that make your creation entirely unique – so much more that the sum of its parts.

That’s the magic and eventually it’s time to set free your deeply personal entity, to let it soar up and away …

Truly special, this is a book for all ages, a book where words and pictures are in complete harmony, a book for anyone who loves nature and being creative. Such is the attention to detail throughout that readers will want to pause on each exquisite spread, fill with awe, and wondering at the precious nature of life itself. Matt Ottley’s art has a musicality that is simply perfect for this story, as he gently infuses his visuals with the intimacy of Meg McKinlay’s telling : a telling that has an ethereal haunting quality that will stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.

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