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Beautiful Blackbird

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  356 Ratings  ·  124 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 of 605)
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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 th ...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
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 blac ...more
Daniel Markowski
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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 t ...more
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
John Gilley
Jul 23, 2015 John Gilley rated it it was amazing
I love this book! I think it has so many great lessons for children, I would love to have this book in my classroom!
This book is about a blackbird that is voted most beautiful of all the other birds. All the other birds are pink, yellow, red, orange, etc and blackbird is the only one that is black. All the other birds want to be like blackbird and blackbird cannot understand why. He tells the other birds they are beautiful in their own way and that they should be proud of their own colors. Howev
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
Caitlan Smith
Dec 01, 2015 Caitlan Smith rated it it was amazing
As a reader I really enjoyed reading this book. I found the illustrations to be absolutely amazing and breath taking. I love the message that the book conveyed to me about just being your true and unique self. I also loved how this book showed me the message of not to just look at people's outside appearance, but their inside appearance as well.

As a future educator, I cannot wait to share this book with my students. This story can be used in my classroom to help students spot the different exam
Dec 09, 2015 Kiya rated it it was amazing
Beautiful Blackbird is based off of an African tale. Centuries ago all of the birds in Africa were known to be colorful, all different colors of the rainbow, pinks, purples, reds, greens, oranges, and many more. But one bird in particular who was black, His name was Blackbird and he was the only one of his kind and so all of the colorful birds thought he was the most beautiful of them all and they all destined to be black just like him! I loved this book because of the underline message be yours ...more
Amanda Carpenter
Sep 28, 2014 Amanda Carpenter rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
Bryan, Ashley. (2003). Beautiful Blackbird. New York: Simon & Schuster

Coretta Scott King Award


This book is about birds who are each a different color but they are very plain. All of the birds think that blackbird is the most beautiful. Blackbird makes a black paint and paints a black design on all of the their necks. All the birds are happy because they have black on them. I thought this was a great book. The pictures are very beautiful. The message from this book is that you should
Jasmine Lambert
Dec 07, 2015 Jasmine Lambert rated it liked it
Shelves: tch-lrn-307, cskaward
The book Beautiful Blackbird is based off of an African tale told by the people of Zambia. Long time ago all of the birds in Africa were known to be colorful, all different colors of the rainbow, pinks, purples, reds, greens, oranges, and many more. There was on bird in particular who was black, Blackbird. Blackbird was the only of his kind and the other colorful birds thought he was the most beautiful of them all and they all yearned to be black just like him! Blackbird encouraged that beauty c ...more
Jan 05, 2016 Becca rated it it was amazing
Out of the three Ashley Bryan books that I read in preparation for the 2016 Festival of Faith and Writing, I think I liked this one the best. The other two were compilations of spirituals and poetry, whereas this book was a straightforward narrative of an adaptation of a Rhodesian tale. Again, I loved Bryan's cut-paper collage and the author's note at the end of the book that indicated that the photocopied scissors on the inside covers of the book were scissors belonging to the author's mothers ...more
Terri Curtis
Oct 11, 2015 Terri Curtis rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book, and I have absolutely nothing against the retelling. What I have a problem with is that it seems to be a bit contradictory. On the one hand, Blackbird tells the others that even if he paints them that the outside doesn't match the inside. Then on the other hand, he tells them what a difference a touch of black can make.

The pictures were very beautiful and the story was beautifully told with sing-songy text. I wish there had been a bit more information given as
Mar 29, 2014 Theodora rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, birds, colors
This story is about a blackbird who got so much attention and was envied by all the other red, blue, yellow and green birds in the forest.The colors of the rainbow. Ring dove had a festival and invited all the bird and they came in from everywhere, they all gathered around the lake. All the birds admire his color black and said it is beautiful.They looked at
his images in the water it reflected all the different colors and liked it. Ring Dove made a point to let them know that beauty is not all e
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 r ...more
Apr 25, 2015 Shealtiel rated it liked it
This is the story of a beautiful blackbird that all the other birds looked to. When one bird requests him to paint a black ring around his neck, he end up having to paint the entire flock. The blackbird reminds the others that they are them and he is him no matter what they look like. It is an African tale as well as one that could be used for teaching diversity in social studies. The book is easy to read in a poem like form. The author has illustrated the book make collages with cut out paper. ...more
Brooke Lytle
Nov 11, 2015 Brooke Lytle rated it liked it
There are so many beautifully positive things about this book, which is why I would consider using it in my classroom, when I become a teacher. The pictures are absolutely stunning, and it is a beautiful retelling of the original folktale version. I love the overwhelming use of color, and I could definitely use this book in my classroom, when teaching my students about different colors. This book also celebrates the importance of being one's own self, as well as the beauty of acceptance. This bo ...more
Kandice Buck
Oct 07, 2015 Kandice Buck rated it really liked it
Shelves: animals
Blackbird was a bird who was voted the most beautiful bird in the land among all the birds. There were birds of all kinds of colors; blue, red, yellow, and more. They all wanted to be as beautiful as Blackbird. Blackbird told all the birds that beauty comes from within not from whats on the outside. Blackbird then paints a different design on each of the birds explaining to them that they are all beautiful even though they look different. The illustrations in this book are beyond colorful. It is ...more
Sara Saverko
Nov 04, 2015 Sara Saverko rated it it was amazing
Ashley Bryan wrote this traditional story about a Blackbird. This story talks about the birds from Africa. The story is a fable about animals who teach a lesson to children. None of the birds in Africa were ever black. The other animals said the Blackbird was the most beautiful of them all because the Blackbird was the only one who had any black on his feathers. This story is a great story to help children understand that what is on the outside doesn't matter. It is what is on the inside that ma ...more
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 hap ...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
 (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
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
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 co ...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
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
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Ashley Bryan is an illustrator, children's author, and poet.
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