Maybe as a reader and parent, I am a sucker for a touching story. Maybe
my grandfather's odd collection of unwanted or injured animals still strikes
a sentimental chord with me. After all, my grandmother often commented that
Grandpa was always bringing home strays, whether two- or four-legged! My
childhood was filled with dogs, ducks, rabbits, ponies and other assorted
"projects" my grandpa brought home. Whatever the reason the book spoke so
strongly to me, Bob Graham's picture book "How to Heal a Broken Wing" had me
perusing the pages with misty eyes for countless moments of pleasure.
The story is told through little text and intriguing illustrations.
Simple line drawings, washed in places with vivid color, tell this tale of
compassion and hope.
A boy is walking with his mother in a large city when he alone spies a
pigeon that has been injured when it flew into a skyscraper's window. The
boy immediately tugs at his mother's arm, obviously distraught by the bird's
plight. In the middle of a busy plaza, the pair gently wrap the injured bird
in the mother's scarf, transporting it home via the subway. The boy even
brings along one of the bird's feathers that has fallen out.
home, the father explains that feathers can't be put back, but sometimes a
broken wing could heal. The small family cares for the bird until it can
once again fly, whereupon the family returns to the plaza and releases the
bird to the wild once again. All that is left behind is the feather and, of
course, the memory of how they helped the bird survive.
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When the boy and his mother find the injured bird, the
illustrations of the city are drab grays and browns, the peoples'
feet rushing past the fallen bird without noticing his need. Only
the boy is shown in color, with an almost angelic spread of dazzling
light when the boy picks up the bird from the sidewalk. Without a
word, the author has let his readers know that this moment is of
tremendous importance. The boy has displayed an awareness of his
world that the busy adults around him have been blinded from
noticing. His compassion for the bird reminds all readers that life
in all forms is precious.
Graham has a unique ability to illustrate the boy's world with
many detailed and yet simple illustrations, such as the
stocking-footed parents, pigeon droppings on the tops of statues and
windowsills, the comfortable living room of the family's apartment,
and the phases of the moon that show the passing of time as the bird
heals. His use of bright color pinpoints the important aspects of
the illustrations, while the subdued background washes give the
reader context. His use of perspectives always reminds the reader
that the story's setting is a large city, while showing that the
coziness of home is where people care for each other.
"How to Heal a Broken Wing" is a tale that can speak volumes with
the actual use of a few sentences. It is a book that begs to be
shared with a child on one's lap, with time to pore over each and
every picture. It is an experience that can open doors to many
discussions or quietly warm our hearts. My grandfather would have
loved this book, and I hope many young readers will as well.
To check out this book and others by Bob Graham, come see us at
the Lincoln Public Library, 725 Pekin St.
[Text from file received from
Lincoln Public Library District]
(Ms. Lou's blog: