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BLUEBIRD
By Bob Staake
Svhwartz & Wade - Random House
2013
ISBN 10: 0375870377
ISBN 13: 978-0375870378
 
Return To All Books
 
 

Behind The Pages With Bob:

"The story was inspired by a Spring walk I took through Central Park in 2002 and the many birds I encountered along the way. In particular, I noticed a cat bird that seemed to hop along the grass and fly along with me as he made his way through the park. The bird seemed as curious about me as I was about him, and on the train back to Massachusetts I wondered if I could craft a story about a bird wordlessly interacting with a young child. In my Cape Cod studio, I began thinking about the book and created a cover concept sketch showing a solitary bird amidst a sparse, almost abstract, New York skyline. I called the story BLUEBIRD."

-- Bob Staake

 

The teacher in the classroom writes her name on the blackboard as "Mrs. Albert". This was the name of my 3rd grade teacher at Washington School in Redondo Beach, CA.

The manufacturer of the school room clock is "Icarus."

If you remove the book wrap you'll discover a second cover -- a grayscale bird's eye view of midtown Manhattan and Central Park South, with the bluebird floating above the clouds.

 

Back-Of-The-Book Blurbs For BLUEBIRD:

"Staake is a magician, an alchemist. In his hands, geometric shapes poetically take on some of childhood's big themes -- tenderness, longing, and loss."

- Françoise Mouly, Art Editor, The New Yorker

"Bob Staake's wordless story brings a tear to your eye, a lump to your throat, and finally, a glow to your heart."

- George Lois, Art Director and Author

"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, 2-time Pulitizer Prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post

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Summary:

"Like nothing you have seen before," raves Kirkus Reviews in a starred review.

In his most beautiful and moving work to date, Bob Staake explores the universal themes of loneliness, bullying, and the importance of friendship. In this emotional picture book, readers will be captivated as they follow the journey of a bluebird as he develops a friendship with a young boy and ultimately risks his life to save the boy from harm. Both simple and evocative, this timeless and profound story will resonate with readers young and old.

Bob Staake has been working on this book for 10 years, and he believes it is the story he was born to write.

BLUEBIRD has been translated into over 7 languages including French, Spanish, Japanese and Korean.

The Manassas, VA Symphony produced a musical score based on the book in 2013. Listen to it here.

You can find more information on the book at FlyBluebird.com

Sample image from book (above)

The New York Times Book Review

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. Staakehas drawn a book of true beauty.

Publishers Weekly

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. Ages 4­8. Agent: Gilliam Mackenzie, Gillian Mackenzie Agency. (Apr.)

Starred Review, Booklist, April 15, 2013:

"Staake works out an impressive range of emotion... Without use of a single word, this book raises all kinds of simple profundities for kids to question, ponder, imagine, and discuss."

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, February 25, 2013:

"Believers and skeptics alike will find something deeply impressive and moving in this work of a singular, fully committed talent."

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2013:

"Like nothing you have seen before."

School Library Journal

Gr 2­5-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 together-in 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.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library

Kirkus Reviews

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. (Picture book. 6 & up)

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