Marianne Dubac, the author and illustrator of the picture book ‘The Lion And The Bird’ came up with the story in a matter of minutes. In a discussion about the book with the wonderful blog Picturebook Makers Marianne spoke how the book came to life.
The Lion and the Bird’ was written in a few minutes. This is often how my stories come to life: writing really quickly what comes into my mind. It can take a few hours, days, months or even (as in this case) years for the story to start forming clearly in my head – but once this happens, I have to write it down very quickly or it will drift away.
This book about kindness, love, time and renewal hits all the right notes. A bird is forced to stay back, as her flock flies away to warmer climes. Wounded, she would most definitely perish. Staring most certainly at death, she is saved by the kindness of a solitary lion. The lion takes her in and nurses her through the harsh winter. They spend the cold days and colder nights keeping each other company. The lion continues with the rhythm of his work as he did when he was alone, but his heart is a little warmer, his smile lingers in the company of his bird friend.
As all things must pass, so does the winter and spring. Marianne captures the changing seasons eloquently. She illustrates it through the growth of a tomato plant. The bird, now rejuvenated and strong is ready to join its returning flock. And it does. Lion knows that this is the way, but the memory of his friend and their friendship is very strong. He goes back to living alone, but his feathered friend is never far from his mind. It is summer outside, but lion feels a little cold inside. Life goes on for lion, and summer turns to autumn, signalling the arrival of colder times and fallen leaves. An unexpected turn of events leaves Lion pleasantly surprised.
Marianne drew from her own sad goodbyes with friends and family. She notes:
Growing up as an only child, my family and friends were really important to me. With many of them, we’ve grown apart for different reasons; some of them moved away (or I moved away) and others simply changed. C’est la vie. ‘The Lion and the Bird’ is about life’s way of taking people away from the ones they love. It’s also about letting go of the ones you love, and having faith in life’s way of sending them back your way some day.
Children today often like the bird migrate with their families city to city or locality to locality. Goodbyes and not being able to meet old friends become a reality they are faced with. Yet, when they do chance to see each other and spend time, their joy is limitless and their ties renewed.
A gem of a book that deserves all its high praise.