Title: The Language of Birds
Publisher: G.P. Putnam, New York
Publication Date: 2000
Illustrator: Gaber, Susan
Book Condition: Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: Fine
Signed: Signed by Author(s)
Edition: First Edition
Fine in a fine dust wrapper. A very lovely story that is beautifully illustrated. Bookseller Inventory # 004376
Synopsis: Ivan and Vasilli are as different as brothers can be. When their father sends them out to prove themselves in the wide world, Vasilli is only out for himself, while Ivan approaches the future with a generous heart. When a thoughtful gesture saves the life of a baby bird, Ivan is granted a wish from the bird's mother--he is able to understand the language of birds. Vasilli mocks this humble gift even when he's warned of danger and his bullheadedness lands him in a dungeon. But Ivan comes to his rescue, freeing Vasilli and greatly impressing a princess at the same time.
Susan Gaber's glowing illustrations enhance and expand this captivating retelling of a Russian fairy tale from acclaimed story-teller Rafe Martin.
From School Library Journal:
Grade 1-5-A strong text underscores this picture-book retelling of a traditional Russian folktale. Vasilii and Ivan are opposites in personality and temperament. When sent out into the world by their merchant father, Vasilii seeks riches and power while his brother strives to understand the language of birds. Ivan's skill at understanding what a trio of crows is saying eventually wins him the hand of a princess and half a czar's kingdom. Martin does an excellent job of creating a text that is both evocative and descriptive. He credits Russian Wonder Tales (Century Co., 1912) by Post Wheeler as his source for this folktale. The accompanying full- and double-page illustrations are accomplished but lack the consistency and strength of Martin's text. Using acrylic paints on a multi-ply paper, Gaber utilizes a fairly dark palette of blues and violets highlighted by various shades of red and orange. By using an extreme perspective and dramatic contrasts between near and far, the pictures are often quite powerful. Unfortunately, they lack a consistent artistic style; several are clearly influenced by traditional Russian painting, others by Japanese prints, and still others by the Italian Renaissance. The most satisfying aspects of the illustrations are the borders created from stylized bird tracks, profiles of birds, and feathers. With its positive depiction of humans working with nature, this title should have uses beyond most picture-book adaptations of Russian folklore.
Denise Anton Wright, Alliance Library System, Bloomington, IL
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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