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Birdsong: A Story in Pictures
by James Sturm


This book was definitely not what I was expecting. It was in the juvie graphic novel section, and I think I would have gone into it a lot differently if I'd seen it in the adult fiction or even nonfiction section.

"E-toki" means "Picture explaining," which is something the reader doesn't get until the end. This book is based on this Japanese tradition, so the story is only pictures, no words. It's up to the reader to tell the story that's going on. So each person might have a different take on the story, which is about two pretty rotten children who are cruel to birds and transformed into monkeys that are then captured and put in a circus/carnival freakshow-type act. I must admit, there were a few pages I didn't quite understand, so the story I told myself was incomplete and confused. But there was a definite moral there.

Moreover, the pictures are gorgeous. They're full of bold colors and details without being too overbearing explaining the story. They depict just enough to get you thinking. This is frustrating when reading the first time. But once you realize the point of the book, a second read allows the illustration style to make perfect sense.


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