Free as a Cloud

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Bing Bai (text), Rong Yu (illus.), Free as a Cloud, Starfish Bay Children’s Books, April 2017,  40pp., $27.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781760360351

The original edition of this book, which is a translation from Chinese, won the 2013 Golden Apple Award from the Biennial of Illustration Bratislava.  The author has also won several awards in China and elsewhere.  It is an uncomplicated story about a myna bird that is adopted by a family who do everything to make his life happy, but he desperately misses his jungle home and ceases to sing.  Finally the family understands and releases him to his natural habitat.  The story is related in simple language and presented in a reasonably large sanserif typeface.  There are two distinct styles of illustration: the family and other animal characters are depicted in large black silhouette form, against a background of delicate, partially coloured line drawings that are also used for the charming endpapers.  While the line drawings are full of amusing detail, some of the faces of the black silhouette figures may appear a bit frightening to small children.  Suitable for ages 3-6.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Douglas

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