Tania McCartney (text) and Jess Racklyeft (illustrator), Ivy Bird, Windy Hollow Books, September 2019, 32 pp., RRP $25.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781922081797
Ivy loves everything to do with birds. In this delightful picture book for children aged 2-5, Ivy spends her day with the birds: waking with them, eating with them, swimming with them and more. Throughout it all, Ivy shows a bird-like exuberance until bedtime when she comes home to roost.
Tania McCartney’s lyrical text is sparse, joyful and equally well suited to being read to a young child on your lap or a in a class setting.
When the sun gets up, Ivy wakes to tweets and cheeps.
A little bit of seed and Ivy takes flight.
The marriage between text and illustrations is wonderful. The text is about Ivy but, in the illustrations, Ivy is always portrayed with her family – her mother, father and younger twins – which conveys a heart-warming implicit acceptance of Ivy’s individuality and an unspoken closeness.
Jess Racklyeft’s illustrations virtually fly off the page in a bright, contemporary mix of colours and textures, showing energy and heart. Real-life bird species appear in the illustrations without being specifically mentioned in the text, but the twelve species star in a fact page at the end of the book Many are native to Australia, and likely to be familiar to readers.
A subtle parallel story in the illustrations will reward keen eyes and multiple readings. The discarded cage of Ivy’s pet canary on the final page could well prompt discussions about issues relating to pet ownership and animal welfare.
Another fun feature in the illustrations is the delightfully sneaky inclusion of real artworks by the illustrator’s 6-year-old daughter, which have been cleverly disguised as the story characters’ art stuck to walls and scattered on the floor.
Not to be outdone, even the endpapers are a beautiful riot of stylised birds in monochromatic green, which ties in beautifully with the story.
Ivy Bird has plenty to share and enjoy on a number of levels. Readers are likely to notice something new on every reading; and you will want to read this book again and again. The fun mix of story and information add an extra level of engagement for children, paving the way to learn about birds, and potentially lead to activities such as bird-watching, outdoor play or general nature studies activities.
Reviewed by Julie Murphy
Read Julies Q&A with author Tania McCartney here