Book Review by Steve Matthews of Bookends.
We have no more important lesson to learn today than the proper care of the planet. Young people. dramatically represented by Greta Thunberg, are making their justified concerns heard more loudly and clearly than ever before. It must become everyone’s central concern. No child is too young to start becoming aware of the destruction our human success is bringing about and the need to change the way we live.
Gloria Edwards, who lives in Cockermouth, has written a children’s book which will make even the youngest of children aware of the dangers we are facing.
The story is about a little bird who “has wings like a rainbow and a beak as bright as the sun”. She plays all day and is happy until “one terrible day everything changed”. Men came and started chopping down trees. “A huge shiny machine grabbed the trees in its teeth”. The animals were terrified when the wood was set on fire and their homes destroyed.
Little bird knew she had to fly away to find a new home. She asks the fish if she can live near her. The fish would welcome her, but the fish is not very well because the factories pour their rubbish into the river. She asks the whale, but the whale is suffering from the oil in the sea and is being hunted and killed. The dormouse is afraid of being eaten by big machines during the harvest.
She asks the owl, but the forest is dying because of acid rain.
“By now Little Bird was feeling very sad not just for herself but for the whole world. She flew on and on for many days.”
After many days she finds a forest where the river has water as clear as glass and she stays and makes her home with the otter.
She sings a new song: “Take care of us! Take care of us!”
The message is clear: “Everyone who hears her listens and tries hard to take care of their own piece of the world.” The book ends with a picture of an acorn and a warning and a hope: “Not the end, just the beginning . . .”
“The Bird who Sang a New Song” is a beautifully produced little book. Karen Sawrey’s illustrations are a delight, simple clear watercolours that make attractive double-page spreads. The bird on the front cover is not only a fat, colourful bird that would brighten any nursery, but it is also finely observed in the movement of the wings.
Gloria does not tackle the far more complicated challenge of global warming. However, this attractive book will evoke a young child’s sympathy and understanding. It will make a child think and question, Why is this happening? What can we do to stop it?