Lindsey's Reviews > Beautiful Blackbird

Beautiful Blackbird by Ashley Bryan
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's review
Mar 25, 2010

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bookshelves: 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 written, and although the illustrations are not of a style that is my favorite, I can see the merit and appeal in them. The illustrations are actually cut paper, and look very bold and simple, yet interesting. I wasn’t very excited to read this book beforehand, but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and my son, a first grader, enjoyed it quite a bit as well. The part that struck me as odd with this story was the message it was sending. On one hand, I understand the black-is-beautiful message. However, the parallel message seemed to be that all of the characters wanted to be the same, which defeats part of the purpose of multi-cultural literature in my mind. I can still see that this book could be used with students to promote pride in their race or ethnicity. This book won the Coretta Scott King award for illustrations, rather than text though, and I can see how the illustrations in their bold simple form were found to match the plot and style of the story well.

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