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Book Reviews

The Lion and the Bird

by Marianne Dubuc; Claudia Z. Bedrick (trans.)

From Quebec illustrator and author Marianne Dubuc, The Lion and the Bird is a sweetly sentimental tale about friendship, the passing of time, and letting go.

One autumn day, Lion is working in his garden when he discovers a wounded bird. Bird can’t fly with her migrating flock, so Lion takes in Bird and cares for his new friend all winter long. The pair go ice fishing and sledding, and read books by the fire. But when spring returns, Bird rejoins her flock and flies away, leaving Lion behind. Spring turns to summer. Lion tends his garden, fishes, and reads by himself. Summer turns to fall, and Bird comes back to spend the winter with her old friend. “And so it goes. Sometimes life is like that.”

Dubuc is known for previous children’s books (including Animal Masquerade and In Front of My House) that feature a similar combination of spare prose and whimsical illustrations. A sentence here and there, well placed among many pages with no words at all, allows Dubuc’s watercolour and coloured-pencil illustrations, rendered in a soft natural palette, to carry the weight of the narrative. Wordless vignettes deftly chronicle the passing of seasons – snow drifts, tomato plants sprout, leaves fall – and capture the companionable relationship between Lion and Bird. New readers will find the text easy to manage on their own, while the illustrations will make it simple for pre-readers to follow the story by themselves.

The Lion and the Bird’s gentle tone and uncomplicated story make it a perfect book to share in a quiet moment, or to help wind things down for bedtime.