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Beautiful Blackbird (Coretta Scott King…
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Beautiful Blackbird (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Winner)

by Ashley Bryan

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This folktale is about a group of birds, who while are all the beautiful colors of the rainbow, think the Blackbird is the most beautiful because he shines all colors in the sun. They want to share some of his black color, so even though he tells the other birds that beauty comes from within, Blackbird paints markings on the other birds in a black color.

Personally, while I like the message, I wasn't particularly impressed with the book. I couldn't connect to it, and felt like the book promoted assimilation and blending in. I hope that doesn't sound too blunt or depressing! ( )
  aelmer | Mar 15, 2014 |
This beautiful book uses cut-paper collages to tell an adaptation of a Zambian folktale in which a blackbird decorates the other birds of the forest with black markings. The text has a rhythmic poetry to it, although it isn't formatted as verse, which could throw you off when reading it--with a little practice, this could be very effective as a storytime book, though. I like the nuanced message; there's the standard "be yourself, it's the inside that's important" part, but the birds also find value in altering their outsides, not out of a sense of obligation, but because they enjoy it aesthetically and it's fun. ( )
  PlasticAtoms | Mar 15, 2014 |
Ashley Bryan's story tells about a group of birds that desire to share and have the black color of the beautiful Blackbird. In the book, the Blackbird is a very considerate and compassionate bird who sees its color as a gift to be shared with the rest of the birds. Since it is indeed the only black bird of the flock, it is not seen as being an undesirable "other" that must be ostracized and pushed off to the side. If anything, its color is a great attribute that adds to its uniqueness and loveliness.
I liked the lyrical quality to Bryan's writing in the bird. At many times, particularly when the birds were engaged in dialogue with one another, their words/ statements were songlike. This I feel not only was a creative, artistic expression for the author, but also was a way to mimic how birds communicate through song. What I also enjoyed about the book was how difference and individuality was seen as a benefit, positive attribute rather than burden. I think that the blackness of the bird, which I feel also reflects something about race, was a great thing to convey to children as being a form of celebration of diversity. This book reminded me a lot of the Rainbow Fish, except the main difference is the willingness of the creature to be open and gracious with its specific characteristic and the unselfishness to spread this love with others.
  rebeccarodela | Mar 13, 2014 |
This book is an adaptation of an African folktale, so it is very educational about African history in that way. It also places an emphasis on the fact that what we are like on the inside is what matters. However, I was not completely entranced with this book. I thought that the plot was lacking a bit and was very predictable in many ways. That being said, I enjoyed Bryan's art and thought it was interesting from a cultural perspective. ( )
  L_Cochran | Mar 10, 2014 |
Beautiful Blackbird by Ashley Byran was a Coretta Scott King award winner, and rightfully so. Blackbird is surrounded by all colorful birds and finds himself the only one to be all black. The other colorful birds admire him that he can reflect all colors. Other birds wish to be like him, but he reminds them it isn’t what matters, what matters is what’s happening on the inside. He encourages them to be themselves, but creates a black brew to paint on his colorful friends. They’ve each a piece of him but they are still their own. This book has a deep diversity and individuality theme that young children wouldn’t initially grasp. I believe this story would increase an understanding for individuality and accepting diversity. ( )
  KelseyDavison | Mar 2, 2014 |
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Book description
Blackbird is the most envied bird in the forest. All the other birds think that he is the most beautiful with all his wonderful black feathers. They are not satisfied with their plain red, yellow, blue, and green feathers. The other birds beg Blackbird to give them some of his beauty; to paint some of their feathers black. Blackbird decides to share some of his "blackening brew" with the others. But he makes sure to state that no matter how many black marks he gives the other birds that he will still be himself and that they will still be themselves. A quote that is repeated throughout the story, “I’ll still be me, and you’ll still be you”. This book really emphasizes that true beauty comes from within.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0689847319, Hardcover)

Black is beautiful, uh-huh!

Long ago, Blackbird was voted the most beautiful bird in the forest. The other birds, who were colored red, yellow, blue, and green, were so envious that they begged Blackbird to paint their feathers with a touch of black so they could be beautiful too. Although Black-bird warns them that true beauty comes from within, the other birds persist and soon each is given a ring of black around their neck or a dot of black on their wings -- markings that detail birds to this very day.

Coretta Scott King Award-winner Ashley Bryan's adaptation of a tale from the Ila-speaking people of Zambia reso-nates both with rhythm and the tale's universal meanings -- appreciating one's heritage and discovering the beauty within. His cut-paper artwork is a joy.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:30 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In a story of the Ila people, the colorful birds of Africa ask Blackbird, whom they think is the most beautiful of birds, to decorate them with some of his "blackening brew."

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