Once, a Bird

by Rina Singh (Author) Nathalie Dion (Illustrator)

Once, a Bird
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

★“A very wise book, speaking volumes…Share this at story hours, or hand it to the child struggling to read; this communicates essential truths without a word. Marvelous.”―School Library Journal, starred review

★“This sweet, understated story is wordless―a perfect way to tell it, as it requires youngsters to relate to the illustrations in a unique, profoundly personal way…Refreshing, beautiful, moving, and meaningful.”―Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★“With cinematic fluidity, Dion’s marvellous watercolor, gouache, and digital illustrations evocatively convey Singh’s thoughtful wordless narrative…This multilayered wordless picture book has much to say about nature, renewal, and resiliency.”―Booklist, starred review

Once, as the winter ended, a little bird emerged to find the world had gone quiet.

The streets were empty and the playgrounds still. Puzzled but determined, the bird explores the town in search of a suitable place to nest. The residents of an apartment building notice her resting in a tree outside and take comfort in her song. Watching through their windows, they look beyond their lives and pause to appreciate the wonders of nature. The bird chooses to make this community her home and builds a nest, an act of resilience and hope that inspires the humans to emerge as well, reminding them that natural rhythms continue, seasons change and life goes on. Once again.

This wordless picture book is a hopeful contemplation of our interconnectedness with the natural world and the joy that nature brings us, even in unusual times.

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Hardcover
$21.95

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Kirkus Reviews

Refreshing, beautiful, moving, and meaningful.

Booklist

With cinematic fluidity, Dion’s marvellous watercolor, gouache, and digital illustrations evocatively convey Singh’s thoughtful wordless narrative…This multilayered wordless picture book has much to say about nature, renewal, and resiliency.

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 3--The shadows are long on the snow, and the ice is going out of the lakes and rivers. Winter is giving up, and there are small green buds starting to unfurl on skinny, thawing branches where a small robin lands, just outside an apartment building. In this wordless book, there are already metaphors upon metaphors, for the world is not only leaving winter behind, but also a pandemic, and the people behind the apartment building's windows are looking out at the bird, and then, surprising themselves, at one another. Dion boldly moves back and forth between the perspective of the red-breasted robin, taking in dried yellow grass for nesting, and the perspective of children leaning out the windows, one white, one Black, gossiping excitedly. A dog gets walked. Old people hold hands. Three new birds are born and must be fed; they will need their strength to fly off to build their own nests. Hope builds, page by page, and all because the robin landed just then, on that branch. This is a very wise book, speaking volumes in Singh's stage directions and Dion's springtime colors. VERDICT Share this at story hours, or hand it to the child struggling to read; this communicates essential truths without use a word. Marvelous.--Kimberly Olson Fakih

Copyright 2023 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

In the opening sequence of this eerie wordless picture book, a bird resembling a robin alights on snowy branches, then flies over cloverleaf highways and sectional croplands without encountering a single person. In lichen-green and pale blue watercolor and gouache panels, Dion shows the bird perched solo at an empty playground and bathing in a fountain, and what initially seems peaceful begins to feel troubling. As buds arrive on trees, the bird descends through chalky clouds to a branch near an apartment building, where its song inspires astonished humans, portrayed with various skin tones, to look, leading to moments of connection. Even after the bird raises three young--drawing people to their windows and even out of doors--the title's unsettling opening lingers, seeming to offer a subtext-heavy ecological warning that lands without much explanation. Ages 3-5. (Sept.)

Copyright 2023 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Rina Singh

Rina Singh is an award-winning children's author who is drawn to real-life stories about the environment and social justice. Her critically acclaimed and award-winning books include Grandmother School, winner of the 2021 Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Prize; Diwali: A Festival of Lights, nominated for the Red Cedar Award; and Once, a Bird. Rina has an MFA in creative writing from Concordia University and a teaching degree from McGill University. She lives in Toronto.

Sophie Casson has illustrated more than twenty-five books, including The Artist and Me by Shane Peacock, a finalist for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, and Helen's Birds by Sara Cassidy, selected as part of IBBY Canada's Silent Book collection. Her highly acclaimed illustrations are inspired by etchings, silkscreen works and Japanese woodblock prints. Sophie's award-winning work has also appeared in the Globe and Mail, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Los Angeles Times and Nature, as well as in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Sophie lives in Montreal, Quebec.

Classification
Fiction
ISBN-13
9781459831438
Lexile Measure
-
Guided Reading Level
-
Publisher
Orca Book Publishers
Publication date
September 12, 2023
Series
-
BISAC categories
JUV002040 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Birds
JUV023000 - Juvenile Fiction | Lifestyles | City & Town Life
JUV009100 - Juvenile Fiction | Concepts | Seasons
Library of Congress categories
Stories without words
Birds
Nature stories
JUVENILE FICTION / Animals / Birds
Resilience (Personality trait)
Wordless picture books

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