Robinson reimagines the 1958 story originally illustrated by Remy Charlip, in which children find a dead bird and offer it a send-off through ritual and song.
Brown’s lovely, gentle, and reassuring text remains the same. The children find a still-warm bird and experience its loss. Knowing it will never fly again, they create a grave—wrapping the bird in grapevine leaves and burying it with sweet-ferns and flowers. Both innocent and wise, the children sing about the bird’s death and cry before inscribing a stone to place on top. Robinson stays true to the intent of the original text and illustrations but elegantly improves upon it with cinematic storytelling. His setting is a lush urban park filled with trees, bridges, and ponds, framed by a city skyline. And his characters are diverse in gender and ethnicity but universal in their emotions, curiosity, and playfulness (one wears fairy wings and another a fox costume). While simply rendered, with basic shapes and few brush strokes, the design of the spreads and the progression of images are spatially sophisticated. As in his illustrations for Matt de la Peña’s Last Stop on Market Street (2015), the artist’s characters and environments have a realness to them, perhaps because Robinson portrays them with such respect, love, and ease.
A story about the importance of ritual and the ability for renewal, itself magnificently renewed by Robinson. (Picture book. 4-8)