Reading Along I-94: Bird and Squirrel

Each week my good pal Jen Vincent and I chat back and forth in a Google Document about a book we are reading or a book we have read. This week we talked about Bird and Squirrel On The Run by James Burks.

Bird & Squirrel on the Run

JEN: I’m so excited that James Burks has a new book out! And I’m even more excited that we’re going to talk about it together. We’re here to discuss Bird and Squirrel but I adore Beep and Bah and Gabby and Gator. Have you read his other books, too?

COLBY: I am a big fan of Beep and Bah. Unfortunately, I have not yet read Gabby and Gator. *hangs head*

JEN: I definitely recommend Gabby and Gator! A great friendship story but also has a pro-vegetable-eating message! And no I want to go and draw her. So cool to really see how an cartoonist/illustrator/artist uses shapes in drawing. (I’m so bad at knowing which word to use…I asked Dave Roman a couple of weeks ago and he was pro-cartoonist…)

COLBY: I’m going to start by saying that I think Squirrel’s hat is awesome.

JEN: Squirrel’s hat is awesome! But I kind of think Bird’s goggles are even cooler. I related to Bird much more easily in this book. I can see how I’m similar to Bird. He’s definitely not afraid to take risks and to try anything. Squirrel kind of brings him to his sense and makes him stop and think…at least a little bit.

COLBY: You are so bird.

JEN: There seems to be a trend in James’ books…they really do center on friendship, in completely different ways, but each has a friend duo. I love how he celebrates friendships! What did you notice about bird and squirrel and how their friendship developed?

COLBY: What I found interesting about how their friendship developed was how they became friends at different speeds. Bird was friends with instantly, but it took Squirrel a long time to let himself befriend Bird.

JEN: Yes! So true! It seems like Bird is an extrovert and ready to try anything while Squirrel is more of an introvert who is hesitant to give Bird his trust. I’ve been looking closely at personality and our preferences as people this year and it’s so interesting how Bird and Squirrel seem to fall right into those styles. Again, I’m so like Bird. I can easily meet someone and feel like I have a new friend after talking for a few minutes…especially if we get to talking about books.

COLBY: I am very much squirrel. I remember last year when I was at the Random House dinner at NCTE. The lovely ladies at Random House wanted to introduce me to Candace Fleming. I was like, “No thanks.” I was way too nervous. Thankfully, they were very Bird and introduced me.

JEN: I have been reading a lot of graphic novels lately and I really do love the bold colors and the fact that Bird and Squirrel is in full color. I’m not sure that I officially have a preference for the full color graphic novels, but they definitely are appealing when they are in full color.

COLBY: Full color is nice, but at the end of the day it is all about the story. If the story rocks kids will love the book. If it is bright and shiny but the story is kind of blah, kids will read it once and be done. You can tell which graphic novels are special by how many times students reread them.

JEN: Actually, I think it’s about the story and the artwork working together. There has to be a synergy between the story and the artwork. What I believe it truly boils down to is a strong story with great artwork. I mean, Lunch Lady and Babymouse have great stories but there is still awesome artwork to go with it. The color part doesn’t really matter if you have a story and artwork that rocks.

I’ve just been spoiled recently with reading Bird and Squirrel, Drama by Raina Telgemeier, and Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi. All of those are absolutely excellent stories with amazing full color artwork. If the story and artwork go hand in hand, then a full color book does make it even more remarkable. 

COLBY: I agree: we have been spoiled. It makes me happy that our young readers have so many amazing graphic novels to read.


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