Author: Hope Lim
Illustrator: Hyewon Yum
Candlewick Press, $16.99; ages 4 to 6
“I Am a Bird” tells the story of a girl who loves to make “ca-caw” sounds as she rides on the back of her father’s bike. This simple joy entertains the girl and causes people to smile and wave. Well, almost everyone.
“I see a woman with a blue coat and a big bag. She is walking very fast. She does not wave. She does not smile. The next morning, I see her again with the same blue coat, the same big bag. I do not smile. I do not wave.”
Each day, the girl does her bird calls until she spots the unresponsive woman in the distance. Eventually, she hides behind her father’s back when they approach the stranger.
“Daddy, I don’t like her.”
“She’s just a lady taking a walk.”
But what if she’s not?
Eventually comes a morning when the girl doesn’t see the lady walking. Instead, they spot her in the park. Her big bag is on the ground, and it’s open. When the bike approaches, the girl hears “chee, chee, chee.”
The girl realizes the lady is singing a song to the birds that have gathered. One even lands on the lady’s outstretched hand. What a charming sight.
“I turn and look until she sees me. I smile and wave. Ca-caw!"
"Chee, chee, chee.”
The simple premise of this debut picture book by Hope Lim offers a story that encourages young readers to reach out, even when differences seem intimidating. An unsmiling face could be a simple bird call away from a beaming expression of understanding. The detailed illustrations by Hyewon Yum add to the warm tone. Yum is an accomplished artist who writes and illustrates her own books, including “Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten,” which earned her the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award.