BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Elsie’s Bird by Jane Yolen, illustrated by David Small

Elsie's BirdThe versatile Jane Yolen – apparently she hates the word “prolific” according to a recent interview – debuts her 300th title bearing her good name over the half century she’s been writing! No, that’s not a typo. Yes, truly 300 books! No wonder she’s been called the ‘Hans Christian Andersen of America’ and the ‘Aesop of the 20th-century.’

Yolen’s latest is a visual delight, thanks to the art of David Small, whose breathtaking graphic memoir, Stitches, garnered the (somewhat controversial) 2009 National Book Award nomination in the Young People’s Literature category.

Elsie is a city girl, living in Boston with her widowed father, comfortable in their life together. But with her mother gone, “Papa longed for something else, something far away from Boston, and the sadness in his heart.” In the era of ‘go west, young man’ – and take your little girl with you – Elsie and her father move to “a faraway place called Nebraska, where there were few people, and almost no towns at all.”

With Elsie’s new canary, Timmy Tune, in hand, the small family arrives to their new life: “‘Here there is only grass and sky and silence,'” Elsie writes back to her grandparents back in Boston. Her solitary life is broken only with the songs she shares back and forth with Timmy Tune.

When Timmy Tune flies out of his cage one day, Elsie gives chase, desperate to find her only friend. Their songs will bring them back together … and their journey out in the open wild will finally bring Elsie ‘home.’

Readers: Children

Published: 2010


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