Review: How to Make A Bird

How to Make a Bird is an award-winning book that is genuinely stunning, poetic and everything beautiful. Mostly, it is a story for creators.

‘To make a bird…’

This is seriously an incredible book. It’s hard to describe as most of the actual story occurs through symbolism and metaphor, but the narrative really is a story about a young girl creating a bird – building it up from its bones and making it into something that can fly. She lives alone in a stitled beach shack and goes about finding all the things to make and a bird and putting it together.

‘… you will need a lot of very tiny bones.’

But the real story is all about creating things, and the story can apply to anything creative. It is just an unbelievable story with perfect writing. Every word feels as if it was chosen with care, and the placement on the page gently suggests the tone and the rhyme in which to speak it out loud, making for an immersive experience.

The illustrations are beyond impressive and draw you into the story, almost making it impossible to look away from the contrast between the haunting darkness and uplifting blues. The skies are huge and impressive and surreal. The story begins in muted colours and shadows, similar to the mind of the creator, and gets lighter and lighter as the story unfolds until the last pages of the window opening and the bird. It really blew my mind how brilliant and stunning it was. It shows the importance of creating and sharing and being bold.

‘These are what will float on air.’

This would have to be up there with some of my all time favourite books and I requested it at the library, but will be buying a copy for sure. Not even for my child but for myself. It’s a call to adventure and dares you to be courageous – ‘Open the window. Open it’.

I can’t recommend this incredible book enough – particularly for creatives. My toddler did love the description of the bird (especially the grasping claws!) and was captivated by the illustrations, but it would suit an older audience who will understand and be able to discuss the use of metaphor. This is reflected in the books age category recommendation though of 6 – 12 year olds.

Title: How to Make A Bird

Author: Meg McKinlay

Illustrator: Matt Ottley

Publisher: Walker Books

Published: 2020

Ages: 6 – 12


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