Wednesday 28 October 2015

The Lion and the Bird

The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc translated by Sarah Ardizzone (Book Island) HB RRP $23.95  ISBN 9780994109873

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Originally published in French, this simply told picture book is written and illustrated by an internationally award-winning Canadian illustrator and author of children’s books. It is a tale of the relationship between a lion wearing dungarees and a lost bird. In the first wordless double page the reader sees Lion on an autumn day working in his sparse garden. Above is a flock of birds but one of them unfortunately falls: it is found by Lion still alive but injured. Lion tends to the bird while the flock disappears.

In very few words, and often in wordless pages, one ‘reads’ the story of how the unlikely pairing of the two main animals becomes a close relationship. There are even blank pages to indicate the long passing of (a snowy) winter, and of of time. Finally, a flower appears on the snow and as does the flock of birds in the sky. The now healed bird returns to his flock and the Lion continues a solitary life – until autumn returns. 

This cyclic tale is very gently told in minimalist text and illustrations which are stark and almost naïve-like. The story doesn’t leap out of the pages but instead has a feeling of seeping into the reader’s pores to become embedded there long after the final page is closed. The themes of friendship, patience, loneliness and change are the hallmarks of this poignant and uplifting story.

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