A BIRD ABOUT TO SING by Laura Nyman Montenegro


Age Range: 5 - 8
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“Hi, I’m Natalie, a poet,” begins this first-person story about an experience that frees the young girl to be able to share her poems. Natalie’s poetry teacher takes her to a poetry reading but she freezes at the mike and can’t read her poem in front of all the other adult poets. As she leaves, a woman tells her, “Don’t worry Hon, when the time is right, the bird begins to sing.” On the way home on the bus Natalie cries, “What if I try and my words never come out?” Looking out the window, the scenes suggest a poem to her and she feels like a bird about to sing. She reads her poem to her teacher and when she’s done, there is applause from the people on the bus—who turn out to be all the poets, because “poets always ride the bus.” The colorful gouache, stylized illustrations are spare in details, using elongated figures and limbs with shapes to give definition to the characters. The large-nosed, eyebrow-less faces are reminiscent of Modigliani. Poetry is the vehicle here but the message is more about the creative spirit and feeling free to express one’s self. Language teachers should take note. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 24th, 2003
ISBN: 0-618-18865-7
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2003