Review Blog

Apr 10 2019

The go-away bird by Julia Donaldson

cover image

Illus. by Catherine Rayner. Macmillan Children's Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781509843589.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Friendship, Birds. A bird in South African has a call that sounds like 'go away' and is so named the go-away bird. In this story of friendship, of people needing others to survive, the Go-Away bird tells all the other birds who come to roost in her tree to go away. A wonderful series of birds come into the tree only to be told to go away. The Chit-Chit bird wants to chat with her, but is told to go away. The Peck-Peck bird wants to eat with her but is told to go away. The Flip-Flap bird wants the Go-Away bird to come and fly with her, but is told to go away. Donaldson cleverly writes a six line rhyming stanza introducing each bird as they come by, telling the reader what the bird wants to do. Each stanza finishes with the two lines
But the Go-Away bird just shook her head
And what do you think she said?

Each bird is rebuffed by the Go-Away bird, with the words 'Go Away' forming a large part of her response, encouraging readers and listeners to join in, each time more heartily that the last.
But of course, readers will know that something will happen to make her regret her rejection of the birds, and it does, in the form of a large, brown bird. This one does not want to share a meal with her, or fly with her or just chat. This one wants to eat her.
The Go-Away bird is frightened, but just then a Come-Back bird happens by and calls out, making sure the other birds return. Together the loud, colourful group of birds is able to scare off the larger predator and so stay with the Go-Away bird in her tree.
With beautiful water colour illustrations by Rayner, the book is a treat, the birds wonderfully conveyed, impelling all readers to use google to find out more about these birds. Kids will love the rhyming nature of the lines, love the repetition and prediction of what rhyming word will be used to finish each line. They will love calling out, Go-Away, and joining in with the fun of the story. And they will love the look of the illustrations, the feathery leaves, the round pink of the berries, the wonderful endpapers, the bright colours of the birds and the menacing brown presence of the predator filling the pages as he eyes off his lunch. A wonderful book to stimulate discussions about birds, bird calls, friendship and the value of being in a group, the fun of the story will be a treat to all readers.
Fran Knight

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