Ten birds want to cross a river and they can’t work out how to do it. That’s the basic premise of a picture book by chiaroscuro artist Cybele Young – but hold on, because there are hidden depths.
Each bird has a name seemingly culled from old report cards. There’s “Brilliant”, who makes stilts. Then there’s “Highly Satisfactory” who builds a raft. Poor old “Needs Improvement” – with whom many a young reader may empathise – is left behind. Never fear, he comes up with a solution in the end.
The best picture books provide entertainment for the adult as well as the child they’re reading to; I’d also guess that Ten Birds will continue to amuse and instruct long after the child has learned to count to ten.
My only quaver is that, as a kid, I found monotone illustrations a real turn-off. Perhaps I was just spoiled? Well, it was the Seventies: there was colour everywhere. As I got older, I learned to appreciate more subtle things… but I’m not sure my daughter shares that sentiment just yet.