Bob Staake has been working on this book for 10 years, and he believes it is the story he was born to write.
Bluebird follows the story of a young boy who is friendless and the victim of bullying at school. He's excluded from group recess activities and teased in class. Meanwhile, a small bluebird watches the boy and proceeds to follow him after school releases. A friendship between the two is forged and it's put to the test during a tension-filled ending.
Bluebird really surprised me with the fact that I didn't think it would be so deep. I expected a usual picture book along with text to read out loud to my daughter. Instead, Bluebird is told entirely through beautiful illustrations shaded in black, white and blues. Each page is also broken into smaller panels to depict the next part of the narration and the passage of time. I was immediately taken with style because it reminds me of children's graphic novel, but much more simplified. However, my 5-year-old had difficultly understanding what was taking place in the book because it's not a style she is used to. In fact, the first thing she said when we started reading was, "Where are the words? I need the words!" So it's a bit of a learning curve for younger readers, but what the narration lacks in simplicity makes up for with the fascinating illustrations.
The ending to Bluebird also surprised me and I'll admit to not realizing the severity of what transpired until after I went back and re-read the blurb. It seems like the ending is set up in two ways. Based on interpretation and readiness of the reader, the bluebird can be seen as either suffering a non-fatal injury or ultimately dying. This was a very clever and makes the book appear more universal to all readers despite age.
Final verdict: Bluebird is an unexpected gem and touches on tough issues in a very delicate way. It's the perfect book to use as a gateway for open discussion about loss to a younger reader, and moving story about letting go for all.