The Lion and the Bird
“With its understated title and placid cover image of a rosy-cheeked lion with a small gray bird on his shoulder, The Lion and the Bird is clearly not where the wild things are. And that’s just fine.”
With its understated title and placid cover image of a rosy-cheeked lion with a small gray bird on his shoulder, The Lion and the Bird is clearly not where the wild things are. And that’s just fine.
Instead, Ms. Dubuc, using simple language and a quiet palette of soft shades of tan, blue, and gray, envisions a calmer world where seasons and relationships evolve and where even the unlikeliest pair can become friends.
Dressed in denim overalls, Lion is hoeing one autumn day when a bird falls out of the sky and into his yard. Lion tenderly bandages the bird’s injured wing, and the other birds fly off without their fallen friend. No need to worry, Lion says, putting the bird atop his well-behaved mane. “You’re welcome to stay with me. There’s more than enough room for both of us.”
And so the two head to Lion’s mound-shaped home and begin their companionable life together. The author/illustrator gives readers both full-page and smaller, rough-shaped ovals of pencil drawings that show the friends falling into a sweet routine of sharing food, bedtime stories, and sleeping—Lion in a plain white bed and Bird nearby, tucked into a fuzzy pink bedroom slipper.
Winter brings snow, and the two have fun sledding and ice fishing together. “It snows and snows. But winter doesn’t feel all that cold with a friend.”
Change inevitably comes with spring, though, and Ms. Dubuc beautifully evokes the friends’ awareness that it’s time for Bird to rejoin the flock. Perched on a branch and pointing one wing toward the others, Bird looks at Lion. “Yes,” says Lion. “I know.” And just as Lion releases his friend, the author/illustrator lets white space nearly fill the next four pages.
Lion goes back to his daily routines while making adjustments; readers will note the single place setting at the table, the empty box by the fireplace, the uninhabited pink bedroom slippers. Soon it’s back to the garden for Lion, who takes pleasure in summer pastimes such as reading beneath a shade tree and fishing in a lake.
Fall returns, and Lion can’t help but hope his friend will, too. The bird’s reappearance signifies the nature of friendship and the cycles of life, making for a satisfying ending that young readers will relish.