Myna bird loves flying and soaring through the sky. Then it meets the family and it loves them, too. But living in a cage isn’t the same as flying free – What will myna bird do?
Title: Free as a Cloud
Author: Bai Bing 白冰
Illustrator: Yu Rong 郁蓉
ISBN: 9781760360351 Language: English
Title: 云朵一样的八哥 / Yúnduǒ yīyàng de bāgē (Yun Duo Yi Yang De Ba Ge) ISBN: 9787544826808 Language: 官话 / Mandarin (Chinese)
Themes: future, cause and effect, human impact
What’s it about?
This is the story of a myna bird who loves being free until he befriends a family. They feed him and love him and eventually he ends up in a cage. Now all the bird wants is to fly free once again.
I love the size and typeface of the text – simple, clean, and easy to read. There is a lot of description and feelings which stir the imagination.
Strangely enough it was the unique illustrations that drew me to this book but I really didn’t like the entire book using them.
This book certainly intrigued me with the illustrations in particular but in all honesty having such dark illustrations on every single page felt a bit depressing for a picture book. The bold black paper cut-out illustrations are supported on pages by sketch-style ones but it just didn’t work for me – it wasn’t appealing.
The myna bird tells the story in first person which I did like. It describes what it loves and sees and experiences. With the wording used it helps to stir the imagination and create scenes in your mind – if looking at visualisation activities in the classroom then on that level this book could work.
In addition, this story shows the internal conflict of the myna bird. It loves being free but when it meets the family the bird knows that they love it just as much and it doesn’t want to leave them – so it stays. As the bird stays longer with the family though it begins to start listening to the other part of its heart that wants to soar in the sky and see the mountains – things it just can’t do while trapped in a cage. While the bird becomes more unhappy the family begin to see that while they love their bird – it wants to be free. This could definitely be used in lessons as an analogy or metaphor lesson – looking at our own lives and how we each define freedom.
Overall, I did like the story but the illustrations weren’t for me. I can see the text at least being used in middle primary classrooms for the reasons discussed.
Just on an additional note: While the illustrations for me didn’t suit or inspire the story I did find watching the artist putting the layout together very fascinating. The video is in Mandarin but still worth watching the process if you are looking to do some cut-out artwork in your classroom.