Book Review: How to Heal a Broken Wing

Rating: ★★★★☆

This poignant book tells the story of young Will and his parents, who find a hurt pigeon outside the subway and bring it home to care for it until it can fly again.  The story is deceptively simple, but is presented with a depth of empathy that provokes reflection.

It isn’t quite a wordless book, but artistically it’s as good as one.  Graham tells his story primarily through a skillful handling of perspective, color, and light, with comic-strip style inset frames to move story events along.  His artistic style is reminiscent of Peter Spier’s, with clean lines, simple colors, and good attention to human detail.  His crowd scenes are large, filling the page with the masses of anonymous humanity, but each of his figures has a personality distinct from the others.

The story’s greatest appeal may come from its gentle, nurturing family unit.  Their warmth and security are conveyed through the parents’ body language, the juxtaposition of their small home against the city skyscrapers, and the furnishings of their home, lined with child-bookcases, toys and child-art.  They are supportive, generous, and compassionate, and their love overflows to the small creature temporarily sheltered in their home.

There is also a beautiful theme of taking responsibility for the creatures in our world, even in the heart of the big city.  This will resonate with families who are passionate about biblical environmental stewardship (Genesis 1:28).  The thought probably wasn’t in the mind of the author, but a child who has read this book will bring a fresh understanding to Jesus’ words about how God cares for even the most insignificant birds (Matthew 10:29-31).  It’s probably best for a preschool and early-elementary audience.

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Publication Information: Graham, Bob. How to Heal a Broken Wing. Candlewick. 2008. ISBN: 140632549X.
Categories: 4 Stars, Age 00-04
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Posted on October 25, 2011

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