Sunday, July 15, 2018

South by Daniel Duncan - ADVISABLE

South by Daniel Duncan. PICTURE BOOK. Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2017. $18. 9781419722998



A big-bellied, bearded fisherman hears a sudden noise and discovers an injured bird on his boat. He splints the bird’s wing, and then waits. There is nothing more to do. Even though he comes to love how the bird sings along with his banjo and tastes the fish each day, the weather turns cold and he knows his boat is no home for the bird. So he heads south.  

While most pages have few words, and some have none, they all have detailed illustrations full of hints about how this man’s solitary existence on a small boat contrasts to a huge ocean teaming with life. His gentleness with the wounded bird, and his willingness to go out of his way to take him somewhere safe, testify of his kind heart, but many things are left unanswered, and the ending is ambiguous. The story of friendship is clear, but the mood is more soberly pensive than joyfully relieved. Where is he heading now? Where is home? How long has he been away? Why has he stayed away? Questions such as these would start interesting conversations that could incorporate clues from the illustrations and the students’ imaginations.

P. K. Foster, teacher-librarian

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