About the Book:
Title: A Dream of Birds
Author: Shenaz Patel
Illustrator: Emmanuelle Tchoukriel
Translator: Edwige-Renée Dro
Pub. Date: August 16, 2022
Beagles and Books is thrilled to be part of the blog tour for A Dream of Birds published by Amazon Crossing Kids which aims to increase the diversity of children’s books in translation and encourage young reading from a range of cultural perspectives. Special thanks to the publisher and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
As Sara walks to school on the island of Mauritus, she notices something new in one of the yards-small house with a red roof. Curious, she gets closer and sees parakeets who begin to flap and sing alerting the owner of her presence. Scared, she runs away but can’t stop thinking about the birds which bring back memories of her grandfather.
Each afternoon, birds would pay a visit to her grandfather’s yard performing a concert with their melodic sounds. At precisely four o’clock, her grandfather would return the favor by throwing rice into air. This gorgeous illustration shows the tranquility that the birds brought to Sara and her grandfather.
When Sara past by the birdhouse the next morning, she recalled the sheer joy of the birds flapping their wings in the air to catch their treat. This time when she approaches the parakeets, she sees that the door is not locked. Without hesitation, Sara opens the door letting the birds go free. Her actions are met with punishment by her parents. Would the birds survive in the wild?
Translated from French, A Dream of Birds is a story that gave me pause. While I understand Sara’s motivation for freeing the birds, it is clear her actions were wrong. The birds did not belong to her and captive animals may find it difficult to live in the wild. Sara’s conduct promotes an opportunity to discuss with kids how to deal with situations, opinions, and/or decisions in which they disagree. Clearly, Sara’s grandfather had instilled in her that birds deserve to be free but releasing the birds was not a noble action. Kids can benefit from stories when characters makes errors in judgment eliciting an honest conversation what they could have done differently.
About the Author, Illustrator and Translator:
Shenaz Patel was born and lives on Mauritius Island. She has several jobs: journalist, playwright, novelist, and translator, and she is also a comics and children’s book author. She has written nine books for children, including A Dream of Birds, which was first published in French and English in Mauritius and France. She was named Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in 2013, a high honor given by the French minister of culture.
Emmanuelle Tchoukriel was born and lives in France. Passionate about nature, she studied visual communication before entering the Estienne School in Paris. She specialized in scientific drawing, and she excels in illustrating flora and fauna. On Instagram: @emanuelle_tchoukriel
Edwige-Renée Dro is a writer, translator, and literary activist from the Ivory Coast, in Africa. Her writings have been published in anthologies such as New Daughters of Africa and Africa39, among others. She has judged many literary prizes, including the PEN International New Voices Award and the Etisalat Prize for Literature. She was awarded the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2018 and is a 2021 resident of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Learn more at edwigedro.wordpress.com.
Facebook: Renée Edwige Dro