Ellie Sandall

A bird perched on a branch is singing a beautiful, albeit lonely, tune. Soon he is joined by another bird with a song of its own and eventually there are eight birds, all with different plumage and  all singing, together, their beautiful unique songs. Everybody is having plenty of fun until a very large bird turns up and frightens away the group with its loud shrieking. It wants the branch all to itself but will it get away with his rude behaviour? Not if the smallest creature in the story has anything to do with it!

We had great fun reading this book at bedtime. The rhyming text really flows well, intertwined with the birdsongs. We all took turns reading out the bird calls, and this interaction with the text makes this story quite special.

The message of bullying and throwing your weight around is subtle but clear enough but for the young audience to grasp (my daughter pointed out that the big bird’s song was in “big bold letters” because “he is being very loud and rude”). I think it is particularly satisfying for them that it is the tiniest creature that teaches the big bully a lesson. This is the kind of resolution which goes a long way in  making a young audience feel safe.  But what I particularly liked was the message that individuality does not mean one has to be alone. We can all be different and yet feel part of a group; here the group appreciates celebrates each bird’s individuality. I think my children really liked this idea.

The artwork is really unusual with a assortment of media put together: textured crayon for the trees, watercolour for the birds (and the butterfly!)  and a bit of collage as well. This gives the page a lovely feel, with plenty to look at and showcases Ellie Sandall’s very orginal style. The owl is by far my favourite bird but I just loved all of the creatures and the overall feel of the book.
We look forward to more of Ellie’s work!

I am loving Egmont’s new picture books; it is  obvious they are working very hard at developing an original list. I am intrigued to see what they have in store for us next!