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Beautiful Blackbird

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  370 Ratings  ·  135 Reviews
Black is beautiful, uh-huh!

Long ago, Blackbird was voted the most beautiful bird in the forest. The other birds, who were colored red, yellow, blue, and green, were so envious that they begged Blackbird to paint their feathers with a touch of black so they could be beautiful too. Although Black-bird warns them that true beauty comes from within, the other birds persist
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published January 1st 2003 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Feb 06, 2012 L12_Anke rated it it was amazing
Coretta Scott King award-winner, Beautiful Blackbird, is a book to add to your collection for its message, its rhythm as well as its simple artistic beauty. This is a story adapted from a tale of the people of Zambia and it often reads like a poem or a song with its rhyme and alliteration. All the birds in the story are of one color and they long to be as beautiful as the black bird. They beg him for a little black color in their feathers and he is kind enough to share what he has with all of ...more
Eunhye Yu
By: Ashley Bryan
When you were younger did you ever notice a moral of a picture book, chapter book, etc. when you were reading them? I definitely didn’t until reading the Beautiful Blackbird and realizing the hidden message behind the words. The Beautiful Blackbird was written with a narrator as the point of view and some dialogues from the other characters at times. This book took place in Africa and it talks about a group of birds of all the colors on a rainbow that have never seen a black fea
Rachael LaRochelle
Jan 18, 2013 Rachael LaRochelle rated it it was amazing
Beautiful Blackbird is a book that teaches children that true beauty comes from within. The book is about how all of the birds in Africa were colorful expect for one blackbird. Black represented beauty and the other birds, wanting to be beautiful too, begged the blackbird to paint some of their feather black so that they would be beautiful too. The Blackbird agrees to paint them black, but wants them to know that the black paint will not make them beautiful because beauty comes from within.
Kendra Person
Jul 12, 2013 Kendra Person rated it liked it
Audience: Primary
Genre: Folk tale

Quote : "We'll see the difference a touch of black can make. Just remember, whatever I do, I'll be me and you be you."

Rational: I chose this quote because in the book, all of the birds think back is the most beautiful color and want to be like black bird. This quote describes that color only changes what you look like, not who you are. This quote provides a mental image because it leaves you wondering how he is going to add a touch of black. And what the charact
Jan 20, 2013 Kelly rated it it was amazing
Beautiful Blackbird is a wonderful by Ashley Bryan. Several colored birds want to be black like blackbird. They ask blackbird to paint their feathers with a black marking so they can be beautiful like blackbird. Blackburn reminds that that their beauty inside of them and not on the outside. A great book for children ages six to nine. A powerful message about how beauty is what's inside of us and that we are all beautiful and unique
Oct 18, 2016 Gretchen rated it it was amazing
Beautiful Blackbird by Ashley Bryan Ashley Bryan

Ashley Bryan is a winner of the Laura Ingalls Wilder award and "Beautiful Blackbird" a wonderful adaptation of a Zambian folktale. The birds in Africa were all of the colors of the rainbow, and Blackbird was the only bird with black coloring. Ringdove called all the birds to meet for a festival in the forest where they all voted Blackbird to be the most beautiful bird of all. "Blackbird stands out best of all. Blackbird is the most beautiful. His feathers gleam all colors of the su
Maria Thompson
Nov 03, 2016 Maria Thompson rated it really liked it
Award: Coretta Scott King Award

Grade Level: Pre-K to 2nd grade

Summary: There are many different colored birds that live in the forest that are getting ready to go to a festival. The most beautiful is the blackbird, and all the other birds want to have black designs on them. The blackbird does paint beautiful markings/symbols on their feathers but explains to them that it's not what color each bird is on the outside that makes them beautiful, but rather whats on the inside.

Review: I grew up heari
Nov 29, 2016 Emily added it
Shelves: award-winning
Laura Ingalls Wilder Award
Coretta Scott King Award

1. A long time ago, the birds of Africa voted the Blackbird as the most beautiful bird because he was the only one with any black on them. One day the Ringdove asked Blackbird to paint some black on him. When he did, all of the others birds wanted the beautiful black on them also. Blackbird reminded them that no matter what he paints on them, they will still be themselves.

2. This is a story that sends the message to the reader that different is
Nov 08, 2016 Dolly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Gorgeously colorful cut paper collage illustrations frame this lyrical African folktale. The narrative is fun to read aloud and the vibrant birds are sure to entertain children. My favorite image is of the collection of birds nesting for the night in a tree under the light of the full moon.

I love that the author mentions in a note at the end of the book that he included an image of the scissors he used to cut the paper for the collages in the endpapers and that they were his mother's scissors. I
Andrew Wells
Plot Summary: The story starts out with a bird called ringdove who is unique color just like the rest of the birds around him. Ringdove and the other birds are jealous of the black bird because they voted him the prettiest bird. After a little persuading, Ringdove convinces the blackbird to paint him black. The other birds are intrigued by ringdove getting a touch of the beautiful black color and ask that he does the same for them. So blackbird paints all of the birds a different style but with ...more
This is a visually dazzling picture book that just begs to be read aloud. Great picture books always give me life, but this one is like an oxygen infusion. (Do a quick search for videos if you want to see what I mean. :) )
Oct 25, 2016 Alicia rated it really liked it
Beautiful Blackbird gracefully shows that the color black can be beautiful, too. The Beautiful Blackbird unites fellow peers by drawing designs on them to add flare and uniqueness to each color and to appreciate what the color black has to offer.
Joshua Arvey
Title: Beautiful Blackbird
Author/Illustrator: Ashley Bryan
Genre: Folktale
Themes: Fantasy, Picture Book, Laura Ingalls Award, Coretta Scott King Award

Plot Summery: As the story of Beautiful Blackbird opens up we are taken to an African forest with a wide variety of colorful birds. There is one bird that sticks out though and that is Blackbird. He is the only bird that is black in the whole forest. He calls everyone over for a special meeting. He ask all of the other birds who the most beautiful b
Bethany Lovhaug
Although Blackbird tells the birds of the forest (red, yellow, blue, and green) that beauty comes from within, the birds insist that they need a ring of black around their neck or a dot of black on their wings--markings that detail birds to this very day.
Marisol Herrera
Nov 24, 2016 Marisol Herrera rated it really liked it
Plot Summary:

This fictional picture book conveys a powerful message to all sorts of readers. After all the colorful birds in Africa admire Blackbird for being the only bird who is black and select him as being the most beautiful of them all, the blackless birds beg Blackbird to paint them with a touch of his black. Although Blackbird tells them that true beauty comes from the inside, the birds insist and Blackbird generously shares some of his blackening by decorating black markings on the other
Dec 24, 2013 Michelle rated it really liked it
In this colorful adaptation of a traditional tale of the Ila people of Zambia, the most colorful birds of Africa all come together for a festival to decide who is the most beautiful of all. Without question all agree that the most beautiful bird is the mysterious and magical Blackbird and they use dance and song to exalt and praise him in the hopes that he will choose to decorate them with some of his “beautiful blackening brew.” Beautiful Blackbird agrees, but only if the birds all promise to ...more
Diana V.
Jul 17, 2012 Diana V. rated it it was amazing
Characters: Blackbird, Colorful Birds, and Ringdove
Point of View: Third Person
Setting: Africa
Primary Grades
Award: Corretta Scoot King Award

Plot: In the beginning of the storyline, Blackbird is described as the only bird in the forest who as black on its feathers, head, and tail. One day Ringdove, one beautiful bird, invited all the birds to a festival in the forest. The birds' colors were mirrored in the waters. "They were red, green, yellow, purple, orange, and blue, pink, then black, blac
Cayla Caudillo
Kirkus Review: Blackbird shares his gifts with the birds of Africa in this colorful read-aloud. This adaptation of an Ila story tells of long ago, when all the birds have solid colored, unpatterned feathers, and only Blackbird has any black at all. The other birds agree that Blackbird is the most beautiful, as his black feathers “gleam all colors in the sun.” Blackbird mixes up a little something in his medicine gourd, and presents each bird with some black patterns of its own. The birds are ...more
Daniel Markowski
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Beverly Cagle
Sep 30, 2012 Beverly Cagle rated it really liked it
The story is an adaptation from the Ila people of Zambia, Africa. Author, Ashley Bryan, begins with illustrations that compliment the folktale. Colorful birds fill the pages, while the beautiful blackbird can be easily spotted in the assortment of color it is surrounded by. The other birds admire the blackbird’s beauty. When the Ringdove asks who is the most beautiful of all the others sing that it is blackbird. The blackbird is complimented by all the birds and Ringdove begs the blackbird to ...more
Beautiful Black Bird
Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award

K-4th grade

The illustrations in Beautiful Black Bird appear to be collage inspired cut outs of birds of various colors with the exception to black bird, “the most beautiful bird of all.” The use of mostly primary and secondary colors, bold, bright illustrations capture a festive atmosphere. The text is written in a rhythmic, slightly repetitive poetic style telling a story about how the birds wish to be as beautiful as Blackbird. The birds
Melissa Stasi
My first impression of this book is that it is so full of colors and the illustrations are so big and bold. This book is from the Ila-speaking people of Zambia and children will love the diversity that this book brings. This is about a bunch of birds that are all different colors except for the blackbird who stands out from the rest because he is black. He thinks that because he is different, he does not fit in with all of the other birds. Suddenly, they become envious of his black color and ask ...more
Kayla Davis
This is a book that focuses on the beauty of the color black, a color that isn’t usually known for getting much glory. Bryan tells the story of a forest filled with birds of all shades of the rainbow, but none of the birds have even a hint of the most esteemed color black, except Blackbird himself. After one bird, Ringdove, successfully begs Blackbird to brew up some black color and paint black rings around his neck, it is not long before all the other birds are lining up and begging Blackbird ...more
 (NS) Amie
I listened to Ashley Bryan's Beautiful Blackbird on my ipod and didn't really like it very much. Even though Ashley Bryan narrated it, I couldn't concentrate on words because I was so distracted by the way he was reading it. I decided to check the book out instead, and I am really glad I did. The paper cut-out illustrations add a lot to the story with their bright colors and their unique shapes. Also, I was able to read it at my own speed which allowed me to see that their is a lot of rhythm and ...more
Mar 29, 2010 Lindsey rated it liked it
Shelves: award-winners
Summary: This book is said to be an “adaptation of a tale from the… people of Zambia.” It is written in a way that it seems like a poem. At the beginning of the story, all of the birds want to have black on them like blackbird because they think it looks so beautiful. Throughout the story blackbird paints black on each of the other birds. At the end of the book the birds all celebrate because they are black and beautiful like blackbird.

Reflection: I liked the lyrical way in which this story was
Emily Moog
Winner of the 2004 Coretta Scott King Award, Beautiful Blackbird is a modern adaptation of an African legend. A blackbird is the most beautiful bird in Africa, and its dark, black color is coveted by all of the birds. The other birds eventually convince the blackbird to paint each of them with black paint so that they too could be black and beautiful. The blackbird does so, but only while reminding the birds that they are beautiful because they are unique, not because they are now partially ...more
Breanna Haynes
Feb 19, 2013 Breanna Haynes rated it really liked it
I think that “Beautiful Blackbird” falls under the definition of a great illustrated book because the pictures take up the majority of the book; it is not overwhelmed by text. The pictures also follow the definition of a great illustrated book because the pictures tell so much of the story without even needing the text! You could honestly look at just the pictures in this book and totally understand exactly what is going on. I love it! The pictures start out with birds that are all bright ...more
Sep 11, 2016 Madison rated it it was amazing
I loved the vibrancy of the birds and their colors! Great story linking back to the Indian culture as well.
Aliyah Inge-hanif
Beautiful Blackbird by Ashley Bryan is a Coretta Scott King Award winning folklore book for children. It is intended for ages three through seven. The story is about many colorful birds that think the blackbird is the most beautiful bird. They all get black designs painted on them, so they can be more like the black bird.

I enjoyed this story and took the plot in a very positive light. It opens discussion on self-esteem. I appreciate that even though the other birds want to be like bird he says
Publisher:Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Year: 2003
Reading Level: Grades 2-7
Summary: This picture book has cut paper illustrations that tell a tale of birds of all colors that wish to be black like the blackbird. The language of the text has a rhythm that can come across with a rehearsed read aloud. The end of the text has the blackbird painting marks on each of the birds.

This book has an explicit message of the beauty of being black. With the end of the book stopping after all the birds add bl
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Ashley Bryan is an illustrator, children's author, and poet.
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