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Okay well….it’s been a little while…but I haven’t forgotten you or this blog.

I swear!

I’ve thought of it often and have wanted to write but I am almost completely enthralled with my two girls and find it hard to tear myself
away for anything and truly it’s hard to find things more interesting than watching them.

I feel that this is such an important time for us to be together, such a tender time with these delicate moments of learning and loving
and learning to love.

During this time when their little brains are forming zillions of synapses and connections, I want them to be infused with compassion, empathy
and kindness. I want them to know unconditional love and spread it out in the world in prolific ways so that their lifetimes are filled with peace.

To coin a song you may know; I know that I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one.

Helping to shape these caring beings takes attached and nurturing parenting skills, patience and a whole whack of materials to
exemplify your point.

I am learning that you can only talk (preach?) so much to your kids before they tune you out for their world of fancy and fun. Better to
get into that world that to try and compete with it.

So when I flew into my local library and stumbled upon Bird Child by Nan Forler and illustrated by François Thisdale (ISBN: 9780887768941, Tundra Books, 2009) I
knew this was a tender tale perfect for this special time.

 

Cover Image Copyright@2009 Francois Thisdale

 

This is a beautiful tale about the difference that we can make to another’s life whether as a mother, as a friend or as another human
being.

Eliza is a “tiny bird-like girl” whose loving mother has nurtured her courage and ability to love from birth with a lovely ritual
encouraging her to ‘fly’ on her ‘wings’ and encourages her to dream.

Lainey is one of her new classmates who looks “feathered and frayed” but who draws the most beautiful pictures which capture Eliza’s
attention.

Unfortunately, Lainey also captures the attention of a bully who snatches her red hat from her head and buries it in the snow and then  mushes snow into her face  “wiping away what was left of the smile she’d had on her first day of school…”

Eliza is troubled by the bullying she witnesses is sad that she stood by like the other kids and didn’t do anything. Her shame and sadness
deepen when Lainey’s drawings become sad and cold.

When she tells her mother of the events of the day, her mother encourages her to think of what makes Lainey special and what she needs
to help her “fly” and when the bullying occurs again, Eliza is able to find her voice and speak up to the antagonist.

I love that this book is about so many things; bullying, friendship, the power of kindness and looking for the good in people. I also
love in this story that when Eliza steps up, others do too and stop the bully in his tracks. The need to stand tall against injustice is one that is
important to instill in children nowadays where apathy seems easier. That lesson is not lost on even the youngest soul.

Image from "Bird Child" Copyright@2009 Francois Thisdale

I love that this is a hopeful story and one that gives ample room through its dreamy illustrations for discussing the complexities of
emotions and the benefit. I love that this book is about so many things; bullying, friendship, the power of kindness and looking for the good in people.
I also love in this story that when Eliza steps up, others do too and stop the bullying in its tracks. That lesson is not lost on even the youngest soul.

I love that this is a hopeful story and one that gives ample room through its dreamy illustrations for discussing the complexities of
emotions and the benefit of being empathetic.  I love that Thisdale’s digitally re-worked images are of his own family in misty blues and calming greens

I cried when I first read this book, it was so…tender.

Nan Forler is a writer after my own heart. She’s a mother of young children, teacher and
writer. She wrote the beginnings of this book by the nightlight in the hall while her family slept nearby. This is my life (well, except for the teacher part).
This is how I live in those delicate moments I find.

I love that she says she “thinks in picture-book format” as a mother and teacher as I can certainly relate and
to be honest, it’s not a bad way to see the world.

Forler is also from Elmira which is Mennonite country and while I don’t think she’s of that background herself I do get a sense of that
peaceful way about her work.  Actually her next picture book Winterberries and Apple Blossoms: Reflections and Flavours of a Mennonite Life appear to
reflect this influence as well.

This is her first published work.

Thisdale is a Quebec artist that lives just outside of Montreal with his wife and daughter in quiet creative bliss. I love his multi-textured
illustrations and the lucid feeling to the drawings in this book.  He’s an artist and a musician and has composed soundtracks.

Check out his website for his work, it’s lyrically lovely and so magical they transport you away…from diapers and dishes the moment you look at them!

I think it’s amazing that they didn’t collaborate during the process of putting this book together as it’s so seamless and inspired.

So much so it was able to tear me away from my own sweet children….if only for a few moments.

SM

 

 

3 Responses to “Teaching Tender: Bird Child by Nan Forler and Francois Thisdale”

  1. Jen says:

    How lovely that he has included images of his own family, that is touching!

  2. Andrea says:

    I can’t decide what I like more-your blogs, or the books you pick! It’s a tie! Thanks for how you so often put what I am feeling, or thinking about, into the written word!

  3. Nan Forler says:

    Thank you so much for this very lovely, very thoughtful review of Bird Child. Your daughters are so lucky to have you guiding them through life. You seem like the greatest mama! Thanks again for these beautiful insights.

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