first second illustrated children’s book I’ve read this year.
Pandora lives alone, in a world of broken things. She makes herself a handsome home, but no one ever comes to visit. Then one day something falls from the sky
. . . a bird with a broken wing.
Little by little, Pandora helps the bird grow stronger. Little by little, the bird helps Pandora feel less lonely. The bird begins to fly again, and always comes back—bringing seeds and flowers and other small gifts. But then one day, it flies away and doesn’t return. Pandora is heartbroken.
Until things begin to grow . . .
Here is a stunningly illustrated celebration of connection and renewal. (Goodreads)
I picked up Pandora on a whim at the library. The cover called to me, so I checked it out. As soon as I got home, I sped through it and decided that I didn’t like it. That’s why I read picture books twice. Because they are so short, I always speed through them and do not take the time to appreciate the story and really look at the art, so I never go with my first impression of a picture book. I always set it aside for a time and read it again when I’m more willing to give the story a chance.
On my second read, I began to appreciate Pandora for what it is: a sweet, quiet children’s picture book about connection, friendship, and renewal that focuses on a sad, lonely fox who cares for and befriends a bird. I like the gradual build up of hope in Pandora as her friendship with the bird renews her perspective on her life and surroundings. It shows how positive connection and friendship can invigorate a person.
I like the art, after all, that’s what got me to pick up the book. There’s a softness to it that emphasizes the tenderness in the story to communicate to the reader that this story is about caring for and uplifting others.
We get that softness from the mild tone of the colors, which, in the beginning, were neutral when used for background images so that those images seemed to all run into each other. The only spot of color was Pandora and later her friend, the bird, to show that Pandora did not care for her surroundings. As the story progresses, the colors spread to include images in the background and landscape and emphasize their shape thus showing that Pandora is healing as her friend does in her care. I loved that about the story — that we can intuit what is happening to Pandora from the changes in the illustrations, which makes the illustrations as essential to the telling of the story as its words.
I also think Turnbull was able to give a softness to the illustrations because of the art mediums she used. She drew them using colored pencils and watercolor, both of which are great at softening the tone of bright colors and easily blending colors into each other (well, in my limited experience with both mediums that tends to happen). I really appreciate that they include in the book the mediums used to create the illustrations.
Overall: ★★☆☆☆ 1/2
It’s a good story and it does a great job of including illustrations that help to tell the story. It’s one I’d recommend.
My star ratings are always based on my enjoyment of a story so though I thought this a good read, it didn’t do much for me, hence my rating. (And yes, I know I’m not the target audience.)