Shona is a princess who lives in the Castle-by-the-Woods with her parents Mum-Queen and Dad-King. She also loves to invent and fix things. Dad-King had even built her a small bench in the shed that was supposed to read 'The Fix-It Princess', but actually read 'The Fox-It Princess', because they'd run out of ink. Lately things hadn't been going so well for the fix-it princess. Shona's parents had taken off a few days ago in the Wing-Thing she had made for their joint birthday presents, and hadn't been seen since. Plus there was no money in the royal chest and no servants to make the yummy food that had always been specially prepared for the Castle Feasts that were held each year. Shona did have chickens for eggs and Wildfire, her father's horse, and an abundance of turnips, but not much else. She managed to keep herself fed and upbeat about her parents homecoming (although she thought it was highly irresponsible of them to be away this long), and chatted to the picture of her Nana that she'd drawn to keep her company. On the third day of her parents being missing, Shona had an idea. She was the fix-it princess after all, and she knew she could solve this problem. She would take Wildfire and embark on a Royal Quest! But before that could happen she needed to get the drawbridge to work, fix the chicken pen that was falling apart after the fox had gotten in, and draw some posters with pictures of her mum and dad on them to hand out in the Village. That was a LOT of fixing, but once it was all done, she still had one more problem to solve. Who was that singing in the woods? She knew for sure it wasn't Mum-Queen so she went to investigate, and found herself face to face with an enormous dragon with the most beautiful voice, and one very large and very sore tooth! Think it through carefully, sweetheart. Slow down, darling, and take things steadily. Things will turn out better if you don't rush them, she could hear her parents saying. Could the dragon be the solution to helping Princess Shona find her parents?
This is a delightful tale by well known Australian author Janeen Brian, of a princess with a can-do attitude, a dragon who needs help learning to fly again, a horse whose name is definitely not a reflection of his character, and two missing parents who are stuck on an island with no way of getting home - unless their fix-it daughter can solve the problem. Readers will love the humour and mishaps in this fairytale like story, and the wild and wonderful ways Shona goes about solving her problems. Told with warmth, compassion, and a message of persistence and caring for all, both animal and human, this story will captivate readers from the very first page. Supported by wonderfully detailed and comical illustrations from Cherie Dignam, this is a highly entertaining story for ages 7+.
Teaching themes could include princesses, queens, kings, inventions, persistence, problem solving, flying, castles, fairytales, families.
Find out more about Janeen Brian
Find out more about Cherie Dignam
Published by Walker Books
Release date 8 March, 2023
Highly recommended for ages 7+
Thanks to Books On Tour Aus and Romi Sharp for the review copy
'Breathe deeply and take your time. The making of a bird is not a thing to be hurried.' '. . . feel your slowly beating heart fill with a kind of sadness, a kind of happiness. For this is when you will know that you have really made a bird.' These are my favourite lines form this beautifully delicate and evocative story. Yes there is a bird that is made, but it is so much more than just a bird. From the delicate bones gathered by the child, to figuring out how to put them together, and then the thoughtful imagining of what is needed for the bird to truly fly, are ideas expertly brought to life in Meg's soulful, meditative text. There is a sense of wonder at every page turn as we follow the journey of the child and the bird in its making. I love Matt's blueprint that forms part of the front cover illustration as this creates the simple deception that there is a blueprint to follow, when in fact there really isn't. His palette of soft, paler hues and tones throughout the majority of the story adds to the ethereal nature of the text. The exquisite, brighter colours of the feathers are a marvellous contrast and help focus the readers' attention on the possibilities of what the bird might do and become.
How To Make A Bird is a story of self belief, individuality, resilience, belonging and limitless imagination, and is a picture book for all ages - not just younger readers. There are so many layers to both the text and the illustrations that you will discover something new every time you read this stunning 2021 CBCA Picture Book Award winner.
Use this story in both primary and secondary classrooms for poetry studies, storytelling, art studies and for maker space ideas. Themes to be explored could include resilience, belonging, imagination, self-awareness, compassion and inventiveness.
Find out more about Meg McKinlay.
Find out more about Matt Ottley.
Published 2020 by Walker Books Australia.
ISBN 9781925381894 (HB)
Highly recommended for ages 6 - 12
I would also recommend this book for middle and high school students.