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In this wordless story, a shy boy finds a winged mentor in a cheery bluebird. The bird helps the boy perk up after a rough day at school and then connects him to some friendly children at a sailboat pond. But when bullies kill the bird-a truly shocking moment-the story sheds its simple yearning and wishfulness (with the bird as a kind of feathered fairy godmother) and deepens into an eloquent affirmation of love, faith, and the persistence of goodness. Staake (Bugs Galore!) propels his story forward with steady assurance, using a largely gray palette, geometric shapes, and comics-style framing. He vividly evokes a Manhattanlike landscape that's overwhelming, yet full of potential, and he gives full visual voice to the boy's emotions; there are several moments when Staake stops the action and lets his audience savor how the bird has transformed the boy. It's possible (though not necessary) to attach the suggestion of an afterlife to the final pages, but believers and skeptics alike will find something deeply impressive and moving in this work of a singular, fully committed talent.

-- Publisher's Weekly

One little boy, one little bird and one big city come together in a wordless fable of friendship, school, loss and comfort. Readers see the bluebird first, following the boy as he walks to school. Like a guardian angel, the bird watches the boy, even while his classmates mock him. Soon, the bird and boy become friends, returning home from school together, playing hide-and-seek, stopping at a bodega and sailing a boat in a pond. A run-in with a group of thugs leads to the bird's demise. Blues and grays are the colors of this urban world, allowing Staake's design to tell the story. Horizontal and vertical panels are interspersed with full-page spreads, encouraging the reader to slow down and experience the story. Though the volume is wordless, there is some environmental text on the signs of the city, which points to how the boy might feel about his life. Each sign is nearly generic: Gotham Café, Circus, The Steadfast Independent Books. Color changes, from blue to near black to white to blue again, allow readers to feel every emotion, including the devastating climax and the begs-to-be-discussed ending, which is punctuated by eight birds of many colors escorting the boy and the bluebird into the clouds.

Like nothing you have seen before. 

-- Kirkus Reviews

With only a few hues of blue, a rainbow of steely grays, and a set of geometric shapes, Staake's wordless picture book explores friendship, wildlife, sacrifice, death, and hope. A young boy's drab world of loneliness gets a splash of color when he meets a perky bluebird. They share a cookie, get ignored by a pickup soccer game, and play in a pond before wandering into an ominous woods. There a squad of bullies turns the day into a tragedy, with the bird lying lifeless on the ground. An uplifting bit of magic closes the story, and the boy is comforted as the bird is reunited with the clouds and sky. In a mix of full-page artwork and small scenes arranged in sequential panels, Staake works out an impressive range of emotion, from the serene whimsy of cloud gazing to the cruel pointlessness of death, in his distinctive circle-and square- based artwork. Without use of a single word (outside of a few pieces of signage to place the story in a New York­style city), this book raises all kinds of simple profundities for kids to question, ponder, imagine, and discuss.

-- Booklist

Few picture books capture the somber hues of loneliness and introspection as stunningly as Staake does in this aptly wordless tale of a boy and a bird. Staake, a New Yorker cartoonist and creator of "The Red Lemon," a New York Times Best Illustrated Book, has drawn a book of true beauty. A young boy is bullied, and while the teacher is oblivious, a bluebird sees all. He sings a merry tune. He plays fly-and-seek. He befriends the boy, then he finds the boy new friends. All this plays out in a New York City landscape of melancholy grays and sky blue, and an unexpected, but welcome, flutter of violet. A rainbow of colors descends in the final pages for an enchanted, bittersweet ending.

-- The New York Times

From its elegant, innovative title sequence to its bittersweet conclusion, this picture book is a feast for the observant eye. Except for some signage, it's nearly wordless; in the title spread, a variant of the spare jacket art serves as a shadowed billboard in a gray-toned cityscape facing a dedication (to John James Audubon) against pure sky blue, thus setting up the dialogue between those tones that will parallel and reinforce the whole story. In the end, that hopeful blue will triumph, but not until the protagonist-a downcast loner, teased or ignored by his classmates-has trudged Manhattan's geometric, gray streets, oblivious to possible friendship or fun until his spirits are gradually lifted by the insistent bird following him. Presently he's sharing crumbs and following it into Central Park, where it leads him into play with other children. Then dusk brings a bullies' ambush, conflict, a slingshot, sorrow-and a dreamlike resurrection accompanied by a many-colored flock. Staake's graphically distinguished art (rendered in Photoshop) conveys extraordinary depth of emotion. Bodies are small, schematic; heads huge, round, eloquent. Buildings-from delicate silhouette to near-accurate representation-support action that's expertly paced via a variety of frames and spreads until yielding to the park's natural curves and then to that blue sky. A story of friendship, of unfolding awareness, or of a more universal kind of love, this quietly beautiful book invites repeated perusals.

-- The Horn Book

Staake's ability to digitally compose and contrast shapes for a pleasing geometric balance, aesthetic effect, and narrative purpose has never been stronger than in this wordless title about a heroic bird. Readers follow its flight past a New York City skyline filled with cones, pyramids, and rectangular prisms. Vertical lines are punctuated with stylized circular trees, heads, iris shots, clocks, etc. The sky and bird are indeed blue, but the lonely boy with the large, round head is dark gray; shades of gray comprise much of his world. White and black, used symbolically, complete the palette. The warbler notices the boy with the downcast eyes being mocked as he enters school. Afterward, the two play hide-and-seek, share a cookie, sail a toy boat together­in short, they become friends. Tuned-in readers will note the dedication to Audubon, examples of his art, the clock brand "Icarus," and other subtle thematic supports. Conflict arises when they enter Central Park, which is ominously dark, and bullies attempt to steal the boat. When one of them hurls a stick, the bird blocks it and falls, lifeless. As the child cradles his friend, the background brightens and a brilliantly colored flock lifts the pair into the clouds, where the creature fades from view as the boy waves good-bye. With echoes of Disney-Pixar's Up and William Joyce's The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (S & S, 2012), this is an apt fable for our time as we seek to help children develop empathy, curb aggression, and sense hope.

-- The School Library Journal

"I wish I could say this without using words, but I can't draw like Bob Staake. Few people can.  This book is a beautiful, beautiful thing."
Gene Weingarten
Pulitzer Prize-Winning Columnist
The Washington Post
"Bob Staake is a magician, an alchemist. In his hands, geometric shapes poetically take on some of childhood's big themes; tenderness, longing, and loss. A universal and deeply resonating fable."
Françoise Mouly
Art Editor
The New Yorker

"Bob Staake's wordless story of a boy and his constant companion, a Bluebird, brings a tear to your eye,  a lump in your throat, and finally, a glow to your heart."
George Lois
Creative and Art Director
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