The two books I read this past week are both love stories from a child’s point of view but with very different messages and very different viewpoints.
The first, The Day I Became a Bird, written by Ingrid Chabbert and illustrated by Guridi, a Spanish artist, was published in 2016 by Kid’s Can Press. It is a very special book. The story goes: Boy meets girl and wants to catch her eye. Girl cares about nothing but birds, “…There are birds on her pants and dresses. She wears birds barrettes in her hair. She draws birds on her notebooks and folders. And when she speaks, her voice sounds like birdsong.” So, the boy makes a bird costume and wears it to school despite all the teasing and hard-to-maneuver times, for he has eyes for her. Then, attracted by the costume, their eyes meet, and the rest is a beautiful story of young(est) love. Done in greys and blacks on beige paper, the drawings, and especially the grey cover are simply lovely and convey the gentleness and guilelessness of the story.
The Tadpole’s Promise, on the other hand, published in 2005 in the US; 2003 in Britain, by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Tony Ress, is downright depressing. Or maybe it was me; I was a bit “down” the day I read it. It is the story of a tadpole and a caterpillar who leans out over the pond on a blade of grass. Their eyes meet, and they fall in love. The caterpillar makes the tadpole promise he will never change, as she calls him her “shiny black pearl,” and he agrees to his “beautiful rainbow” (Her stripes are multi-colored). He promises with good intentions, but breaks his promise three times as he goes through the development of a tadpole into a young frog. She is broken hearted and is so sad, she breaks off the romance and crawls into a cocoon. You guessed it! They both change and no longer recognize each other. As a butterfly, she glides over the pond, the frog zaps out his tongue and swallows her! The depressing ending has the frog sitting on a lily pad, longing for his “beautiful rainbow” and waiting, waiting, waiting…
Two very different endings. Two very different emotions conveyed. Both worth reading for the illustrations alone.