Monday, September 24

A Poet's Bird Garden

by Laura Nyman Montenegro
FSG 2007

When young Natalie releases her Chirpee bird from its cage it immediately flies to a nearby tree. A phone call brings a group of poets to help her lure her bird out of a tree. The poets in turn try different things to lure the bird down from the tree: They plant seeds and bushes, install a birdbath, tie bright string into the branches but nothing seems to work. But Claude, the neighborhood cat, is the culprit scaring all the birds and once he's dispatched the Chirpee returns to its cage all the branches are full of birds.

It's an oddly charming book that I found more rewarding on a second read. Some of the text follows a rhyming scheme and some doesn't, and that interplay eventually works in a quirky sort of way. Far from being naive, there is a certain innocence both in the story and the illustration that... just... works for lack of a better explanation.

I think the one thing I can't reconcile is why the girl lets the bird out of the cage in the first place and then is instantly concerned that it doesn't come back. I suppose it's one of those things kids do and learn about after the fact. There is never any mention of how the bird got into the tree or any lesson learned, it happens and everyone works toward a solution, and then problem solved. Making this a message book would have killed it, I'm not saying it should have a message. If any message can (and should) be pulled from this it's when in trouble, when in doubt, call a poet to figure it out.

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