Elsie's Bird

Elsie's Bird
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
Release Date
September 02, 2010
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Elsie is a city girl. She loves the noise of the cobbled streets of Boston. But when her mother dies and her father moves them to the faraway prairies of Nebraska, Elsie hears only the silence, and she feels alone in the wide sea of grass. Her only comfort is her canary, Timmy Tune. But when Timmy flies out the window, Elsie is forced to run after him, into the tall grass of the prairie, where she's finally able to hear the voice of the prairie-beautiful and noisy- and she begins to feel at home. Jane Yolen and David Small create a remarkable, poetic, vividly rendered book about finding one's place in the world.

Editor review

1 review
Prairie picture book
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Born and raised in the city of Boston, Elsie knows no other life but the clop of horse hooves on cobblestones and the screaming of gulls at fish boats. Even after her mothers death, the city remains her home. That is, until her father decides to flee old memories and move their little family west to the Nebraskan prairie. There, Elsie feels alone amongst the wide-open, silent skies; only her canary, Timmy Tune, keeps her company with his music. But when Timmy Tune escapes his cage and flies into the tall grasses, Elsie must follow her only friend into the prairie landscape. While searching for Timmy, Elsie hears the beauty of the prairie surrounding her and the new land begins to feel like home.

Elsies Bird by Jane Yolen reminds the reader of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the images her work conjures. This recent addition to prairie literature portrays the spirit of the prairie as well as the strength of those people who populated it. The lyrical style that has become a hallmark of Jane Yolen fills the pages with the sounds of the city and the prairie.

Ink, pastel and watercolor illustrations seem a little sparse, perhaps to show the isolation of prairie life. The watercolors are understated but the stark contrast of ink and white space with the watercolor washes felt a bit cartoonish. While interesting to look at, and while the illustrator, David Small, is a Caldecott winner, the illustrations didnt capture this reviewers heart.

The prose, however, did!
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