Oddbird (Derek Desierto)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Oddbird by Derek Desierto, a story of acceptance and fitting in.

It was a hot, steamy day in the jungle, and while all the colorful birds had gathered at the pool, none of them had decided to take the plunge. Instead, they are most concerned with showing off their brilliant colors, until one very… ODD bird appears. Oddbird’s feathers are dull gray, and while he looks forward to cooling off in the refreshing pool, he is chased off by a hostile reception from the colorful birds. Upset with being excluded for the color of the feathers he’s always had, Oddbird concocts a plan to get to the pool without hassle – and that will perhaps prove to the other birds that the feathers don’t make the bird.

Unfortunately, this one was a bit of a muddle. While stories about diversity and acceptance are always important, the metaphors of Oddbird’s dilemma and solution can have an unfortunate interpretation. Oddbird decides to camouflage himself in brightly colored “feathers” made of jungle foliage; this allows him to fit in long enough to make his way to the pool and convince the other birds that enjoying a cooling swim is more fun than showing off their plumage. Tidy enough, but then what is the message? Hide who you are long enough so that others may accept you, then maybe you can change their minds? Perhaps not the best lesson, especially for little readers who may feel insecure about their own “different” appearances. The resolution itself also feels like it’s missing something; while the other birds eventually accept Oddbird as he is, there is no apology or resolution for their aggressive exclusion of him earlier in the story (including comments that literally drive Oddbird to tears). And while the charming and, yes, beautifully colorful photo-cutout art is a treat, it doesn’t quite make up for the confusing theme. Otherwise, the length is fine, and JJ did enjoy the little bird. So while there are several other books about social acceptance I would recommend over this one, it does have a few genuinely redeeming qualities; a little uneven, perhaps a little odd, but still Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)