Bird to Bird (Claire Saxby, illus by Wayne Harris, Black Dog Books)
A bird drops a seed. A seed becomes a tree. Eventually, the tree leaves the forest for the big city, and from there, to the other side of the world on a convict ship. The tree becomes a loom, then part of a kitchen and then, finally, a bird. In Bird to Bird, author Claire Saxby takes an historical fact—that the wood used as bunk beds on convict ships was repurposed on arrival in Australia—and turns it into a modest but moving story about Australian history, the passage of time and the value of recycling. Saxby’s text is elegant and sparse, filled with gentle repetition and a beautifully circular narrative. Wayne Harris’ accompanying illustrations are stunning. Full of light and colour, they take the story from dark forest to smoky city to wide open ocean, carrying the reader seamlessly through time. Harris’ evocative paintings are the perfect pairing to Saxby’s simple, poetic text. Bird to Bird is a gentle way to introduce readers aged four and up to questions about where materials come from, recycling and Australian history.
Meg Whelan is the children’s book buyer at the Hill of Content Bookshop