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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Traditional Literature Review: Beautiful Blackbird by Ashley Bryan



BEAUTIFUL BLACKBIRD by Ashley Bryan

1.  BIBLIOGRAPHY
Bryan, Ashley. 2003. BEAUTIFUL BLACKBIRD. New York, NY: Simon & Shuster. ISBN: 0689847319

2.  PLOT SUMMARY 
Long ago, Blackbird was the only bird of his kind.  All the other birds were many shades of the rainbow, but none had black in their feathers.  Not even a little.  Blackbird was named the most beautiful bird in the forest, and the other birds loved his black color so much they begged him to paint them with black from his medicine gourd.  Blackbird assured the other birds that beauty comes from the inside, not the outside.  But, the birds were persistent and Blackbird finally agreed to give each bird some black to their feathers – which has stayed with them ever since.

 3. CRITICAL ANALYSIS 
As an adaptation of a tale from the Ila-speaking people from Zambia, Beautiful Blackbird stars a blackbird that was the only one of his kind long ago.  Bryan uses repetition with words such as “uh-huh!” and “coo-coo-roo, coo-ca-roo,” which makes the story best appreciated when told orally.  The birds sing of blackbird’s beauty with poetic rhymes and chanting that adds richness and flair throughout the story. Although Blackbird tells the other birds that “Color on the outside is not what’s on the inside,” the birds still want to have black feathers just like him.  Blackbird paints all the birds with black, but he doesn’t paint any of the birds the same; therefore, keeping them all individually unique.

Bryan’s use of bright, bold colors throughout the story not only makes the pages pop with color, but it also allows blackbird to be strikingly different and stand out amongst the sea of birds – which is what draws the other birds to him.  His deep, dark color is in direct contrast to the bright, flowery colors of the other birds that represent all the colors of the rainbow.  Bryan’s use of paper-cut artwork is fun to see and allows for layering of these two-dimensional birds.  Almost every page has a multitude of these different colored birds, none of which are the same and it makes you appreciate the time and creative artistry that went into this unique artwork.

4. REVIEW EXCERPT(S)

Coretta Scott King Award


BOOKLIST: The overlapping collage images fill the pages with energy as the songlike responses of the birds tap out a rhythm punctuated with "uh-huhs."

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL review: “This unusual and little-known pourquoi tale may supplement larger collections and serves as a thoughtful and entertaining addition to units on self-esteem.” (amazon.com)

 5. CONNECTIONS
* This book is great to share with young children to teach appreciation of different cultures and individuality.

*Collect other books written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan such as: LET IT SHINE, THE CAT’S PURR, THE NIGHT HAS EARS: AFRICAN PROVERBS, and BEAT THE STORY-DRUM, PUM-PUM.

*Other picture books about African folktales:
Cleveland, Rob. THE CLEVER MONKEY: A FOLKTALE FROM WEST AFRICA. Ill. Baird Hoffmire. ISBN: 0874838010
McDermott, Gerald. ZOMO THE RABBIT: A TRICKSTER TALE FROM WEST AFRICA. ISBN: 0152010106
Musgrove, Margaret. THE SPIDER WEAVER: A LEGEND OF KENTE CLOTH. Ill. Julia Cairns. ISBN: 0590987879


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