In these days of staying at home, I think many of us are reading more to escape confinement. And when I find a book that involves travel, and especially one, like today’s featured picture book, that involves a great journey through the skies, I know that it must be a Perfect Picture Book.
Title: Boundless Sky
Written By: Amanda Addison
Illustrated By: Manuela Adreani
Publisher/Date: Lantana Publishing/2020
Suitable for Ages: 4-6
Themes/Topics: migration, birds, refugees, welcoming, friendship
Nobody knew, nobody dreamed, nobody even considered the possibility that a bird which fits in your hand might fly halfway round the world—and back again.
A tiny swallow migrates from the United Kingdom to southern Africa, and back, as a young girl leaves her African home to flee to safety in the United Kingdom.
Links to Resources:
- Learn about English swallows, the bird featured in this story;
- Swallows fly great distances in an annual migration. What other animals migrate? Why do you think certain animals migrate? Draw a picture of an animal that migrates;
- Check out the Teaching Resources (link near bottom of the page).
Why I Like this Book:
In Boundless Sky, author Amanda Addison reminds readers that one sky unites birds, animals, and people across this vast world. The initial focus is on Bird, a small English swallow that is about to embark on a journey from the northern part of the northern hemisphere across vast and varied landmasses and waters to arrive, and winter, in the southern part of the southern hemisphere in Africa.
Midway through her flight, as she was crossing a great desert, “the hardest part of the journey”, Bird reached an oasis, a place of refuge where Leila, a young girl, welcomed her with a drink of life-giving water.
But on the return journey, Bird discovers that Leila has disappeared. Thirsty, Bird flew on, to fly, once more, across vast waters, now stormy, and landmasses, to return home. There, she discovers that a familiar friend has also crossed stormy seas and found a new home.
I think even young children will enjoy following along on Bird’s journey, even if they don’t understand that Boundless Sky is the story of parallel journeys. Older children can delve deeper into the topic of migration – of birds, other animals, and people, like Leila, who risk all to seek safety and friendship in a new home.
I found Adreani’s soft pencil palette of blues and beiges to be calming and peaceful, the perfect accompaniment to this story of hope and friendship.
A Note about Craft:
Regular readers know that I’ve read, and reviewed, many picture books about refugees. Although many of these end on a welcoming note, I’m not sure any draw the parallel between animal or bird migration and human migration. Drawing this parallel enables Boundless Sky to function on multiple layers and to be of interest to children older than the target age range.
In addition to the parallel journey recounted in Boundless Sky, I found the choice of Leila’s original home, an oasis, to be particularly poignant. I think most of us think of an oasis as a life-giving island in a sea of desert. But here, the oasis presumably has not protected Leila, which, I think, adds a further layer to this story.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!