This wordless picture book, with a Manhattan setting portrays the developing friendship between a boy and the Bluebird of the title. The boy concerned is definitely a loner, either ignored by his classmates or taunted. After a particularly trying day at school, the bird, who has been watching through the classroom window, follows the boy on his way home, cheering him up and helping him to make a connection with some children sailing boats in the park. Thereafter, the story takes a much darker turn: the boy is set upon by a gang of bullies, a stick is hurled seemingly killing the bird and we see a tearful child clutching his feathered friend.
What happens next is left open to interpretation; suffice it to say though that what we see is a poignant affirmation of the boy’s love. A host of birds of all different colours raise the boy and bird upwards above the towering buildings where we see the bird released to fly on up, up and up.
Themes of loneliness, isolation, bullying, guilt and grief are part and parcel of this eloquent story but it is the feeling of hope that transcends the other emotions. Told entirely without words, the artist manages to control the pace of the story to allow readers the opportunity to stop and give their full attention to the boy’s changing emotions in the framed sequences he has so movingly constructed largely in hues of blue, grey and black and white. He also leaves it to individual readers to bring their own interpretations to the conclusion of this uplifting tale.
This is a book for individual readers to ponder over, wonder at and muse over its possibilities.