Bird Is Dead

Greystone. Mar. 2024. 40p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781778401176.
PreS-Gr 3–The title spells it out. A group of patchwork birds discovers that one of their friends has died. They move through stages of grief together, from shock and disbelief to sadness to acceptance. In short bursts of very direct dialogue, the friends share the news and process their feelings together. The matter-of-fact tone and characters’ range of reactions could give children and families a model for asking their own questions and expressing complicated and even contradictory feelings. Illustrations appear to be mixed-media collage with ink details. Each bird is distinct. Some wear hats, and most have pointy beaks and sharp talons; some children will not find these visually comforting. In one wordless spread, the group trudges across a bleak, cloudy landscape to the burial spot, dragging the body of their friend past bare, thorny trees. However, the return trip across the same landscape is brightened by a ray of sunshine. The book ends with the group gathered around a lantern-lit tree trunk, sharing tea, cake, and worms, along with stories of their friend. Important topics, both death and grief are dealt with in a spare, straightforward manner. The language and mood are not sugarcoated in the slightest, making this is a strong addition to sections on loss and mourning, alongside Margaret Wise Brown’s The Dead Bird and Anastasia Higginbotham’s Death Is Stupid.
VERDICT A solid purchase for collections on grief.

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