[Monday Reading] Of Birds, Flight, and Freedom in 2021/2022 Picturebooks


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date).


For 2022, our reading theme is #DecolonizeBookshelves2022. Essentially, we hope to feature books that fit any of the following criteria:

  1. Postcolonial literature and/or [pre/post] revolutionary stories
  2. Stories by indigenous / first-nation peoples / people of colour
  3. Narratives of survival and healing, exile and migration, displacement and dispossession
  4. Books written or illustrated by people who have been colonized, oppressed, marginalized

A House For Every Bird [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Megan Maynor Illustrated by Kaylani Juanita
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers (2021)
ISBN: 1984896482 (ISBN13: 9781984896483) Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

A young, well-meaning, highly inventive artist is pleased with her creation. As the title goes, she has created a house for every bird. 

So convinced was this young artist of how things “should be” that she failed to take into account the birds’ interests, preferences, and desires. She simply assumed that blue birds would prefer blue houses and that orange birds need to go to orange houses.

Yet no matter how hard she tries, all her creations seem to be mixed up in places where she claims they do not belong. This is indeed an interesting conundrum – as it surfaces the many implicit assumptions people have (young and old alike) of how things are expected to be versus what they truly are.

It is also an insightful story about how, oftentimes, even the most well-meaning people can make mistakes that are based on false assumptions – especially when they fail to listen. As the story goes:

I guess you really can’t tell a bird by its feathers.

And the only way to know a bird is… to get to know a bird.

A Dream Of Birds [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Shenaz Patel Illustrated by Emmanuelle Tchoukriel Translated by Edwige-Renée Dro
Published by Amazon Crossing Kids (2022)
ISBN: 1662500939 (ISBN13: 9781662500930) Review copy provided by publisher. Book photos taken by me.

Sara is a young, imaginative girl who enjoys the outdoors. On her walk to school one beautiful morning, she noticed a small house with a red roof. Naturally, she was curious. Upon close inspection, she realized that the small house was filled with “parakeets of many different colors” all chirping and chattering.

While in school, she cannot stop thinking of the trapped birds and her own startlingly different experience with her grandfather in his little yard – and how he would usually feed the birds with grains of rice at a stipulated time, and how they would all flock freely and gaily in their arms, filled to their hearts’ content, and come back again the next day at the usual time.

This has prompted Sara to make a decision that she was told by her parents is not hers to make. I truly admired this young girl’s compassion, the moral conundrum that she needed to resolve on her own, and how she acted based on what she felt was the right thing to do, even though she was punished for it.

I am truly enjoying the international/translated titles coming from Amazon Crossing. This is a picturebook that raises more questions than answers – especially as to what constitutes right or wrong. It is narratives like these that make young people grow in spirit as they come to terms with what kind of person they envision themselves to be in the not-too-far-off future.

#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Update: 25/26 out of target 100

March 21, 2022 at 06:30AM Myra Garces-Bacsal