The age-old theme of unrequited love is told in this monochromatic minimalist rendering of the story of an unnamed boy who creates a bird costume and wears it all day in order to attract the attention of a young girl, with whom he is hopelessly in love.
The boy tells how he draws pictures of Sylvia, including “one with hearts and a smiling sun.” Confusingly, these pictures are not shown, only sequences in the construction of a whole-body bird costume. The reason for this unfolds elliptically. Sylvia loves birds and “gently cares for them when they are injured.” She is shown holding a bird amid a collage of engravings of different kinds of birds, not identified by species. Although she is described as having “birds on her pants and dresses” and wearing “bird barrettes in her hair,” she is not illustrated with any of these attributes, just as a simply drawn figure watching a bird through binoculars. In spite of the challenges and mocking from classmates, the boy wears the costume built in the opening pages all day at school, drawing warmth and courage from the disguise. His strategy is implausibly rewarded with a romantic embrace from Sylvia. Guridi’s line drawings appear on buff-colored backgrounds; both Sylvia and the narrator appear to be fair-haired and -skinned.
Like the flimsy bird costume, this story flops to the ground due to lack of real substance. (Picture book. 3-6)