A bird and a young girl travel across the world, meeting at the common end of their journeys.
On a crisp autumn morning in the north of England, Alfie, a young white boy, greets a bird in his garden. She flies away and begins her journey across fields, seas, and mountains. In the desert, when the bird is exhausted, she comes to an oasis where a brown-skinned girl named Leila, dressed in a headscarf and flowing dress, offers her some water. The bird then continues her journey above the jungle and across a river, until finally she crosses the plains and grasslands to the place that she will stay during the cold European winter. At the end of the season—which, in southern Africa, is summer—the bird retraces her journey back to England. But when she stops at the desert oasis, as she always does, she finds Leila’s house abandoned, and Leila is nowhere to be found. The bird calls for Leila, but the girl doesn’t answer, and the bird flies on. At the end of the bird’s journey, she returns to Alfie only to find that he has a new neighbor: Leila, the bird’s missing friend. Addison’s poetic text renders the bird’s journey fascinating and awe-inspiring. However, Leila’s parallel migration story lacks the same detail and care as the bird’s: Other than a hint in the illustration in the form of a picture of dark bodies huddled in a boat on a stormy sea, readers are given no sense of what Leila has been through or where she has gone. The result is a tenuous association that makes the book’s ending fall flat.
This attempt at a parallel-migration narrative doesn’t quite cohere. (Picture book. 3-6)