The Books


by Bob Staake

One Potato Review

Without words. This book looks pretty transparently inspired by “The Red Balloon” – the movie, not the book, where the text always seemed a little extraneous anyway – though it’s a story whose updating was overdue. 1950s Paris can seem so heartless and almost medieval as to require at least a PG rating, but there’s nothing remotely menacing about Staake’s gray-and-white landscapes, in fact this is a city, like the boy who inhabits it, which only asks some brush of animation.Everything’s here: the trees for climbing, the cookies for sharing, the boat pond for imagining – there’s even a bookstore called the Steadfast Independent, if you are looking closely. All of this may strike you as especially poetic in an age when we are increasingly turning to our thumbs for social interaction. The bird of the title is really more purple than blue, possibly to avoid being mistaken for a Twitter icon, and makes its introduction during a typically dreary day at school – two truculent bullies at an adjacent table barely rate one upturned eye. We’ll cross their paths again, sure enough, though cruelty is never really the obstacle here, only indifference, and even the bullies are finally roused to contrition. Hard to know what all of the different colored birds are about in the end, but they are an eyeful, one question becoming many, a conversation ever likelier to begin.

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