CIRCLE by Jeannie Baker


by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 9
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Baker (Mirror, 2010, etc.) turns her eye to a story that parallels the migration of the godwit with a white, wheelchair-using child who wishes for flight.

As the child bird-watches from the shore of a nature reserve, the text narrates the growth and eventual nine-day migration of a godwit and his flock. The author's soothing prose conveys the spirit rather than the specifics of this marathon migration; the copyright page refers readers to three websites for more information, but the points of the birds' route—Alaska and New Zealand—are not mentioned in the text, though they are implied in the illustrations. As the godwits “follow an ancient, invisible pathway," bold, textured collage illustrations give a sweeping bird’s-eye view of the world below, from sprawling cities to the slightest footprint in the sand. "The places they remember are gone," but eventually they circle back to the nature reserve, "where mud and sand become sea," where the same child is now chasing a Dalmatian, and underarm crutches lie nearby. In the final illustration, the child, spread-eagled on a bed, imagines soaring with a flock of godwits. The child's condition is unexplained, leaving the child's "flight" open to interpretation. Is it about gaining the ability to walk, or is it about a journey like the godwit's—experiencing transformation over time?

A visually striking account of godwit migration—pair it with Sandra Markle's similar but more concrete The Long, Long Journey (2013), illustrated by Mia Posada. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 10th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-7636-7966-8
Page count: 48pp
Publisher: Candlewick
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2016


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