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Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 11/15/2015 Originally published in 1938, Brown’s The Dead Bird was a standout for its candid discussion of death and grief, and this updated version features warm, playful illustrations from award-winner Robinson. A group of multicultural children are playing in a city park when they happen upon a dead bird. Distressed, they decide to give it a little funeral, “the way grown-up people did when someone died.” Adorning the grave with a stone and flowers and singing a mournful tune, the children bid farewell to the bird, and they visit the grave “every day, until they forgot.” It’s a sharp but oddly comforting view of death, and though there’s no mention of an afterlife, the children’s ritualistic mourning has an undeniable spiritual quality. Robinson’s blocky, bold illustrations, in thick brushstrokes of vibrant color and minimal, yet expressive faces, are just as soothingly guileless as the mourning children, and are a perfect complement to Brown’s plainspoken lines. The original text is timeless, and the modern, cheerful illustrations will help resurrect this classic for a new generation of readers. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 01/01/2016 PreS-Gr 2—Brown's classic, featuring children who find, bury, and eulogize a deceased bird, was originally illustrated in 1958 by Remy Charlip. That's a tough act to follow, but Robinson thoughtfully pays homage to his predecessor while bringing something new to the telling. The text is identical, but the book's orientation shifts from horizontal to vertical and from a limited palette to full color. Charlip's version alternates between spreads with sentences on blank white backgrounds and wordless scenes, encouraging unhurried reflection. Robinson's painted and digital compositions (also emphasizing life-affirming green) home in on diverse, expressive faces and pull back to show enchanting woodland scenes; these perspectives similarly help readers engage with and find relief from the emotional content. One girl wears butterfly wings, while a boy sports a fox mask and tail. Along with the dog who licks a sweet, sad face, these details tie the children more closely to the bird's realm. They also support the spirit of make-believe accompanying the decision to "have a funeral and sing to it the way grown-up people did when someone died." Brown's honesty—"That was the way animals got when they had been dead for some time—cold dead and stone still with no heart beating"—has been both lauded and criticized. Robinson provides new access to her rituals and the notion that it is OK, eventually, to return to play—and kite flying. That kite soars up into birdland and references Remy one last time. VERDICT A lovely book befitting its lineage.—Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library - Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.