Inspired by Russan folk traditions, this is a story that reminds us of the real things that make us happy- love, sharing and kindness. Natasha never knows her mother who died when she was young, but grows up secure in her father's love. Sadly, she also grows up selfish and thoughtless.
Granted one wish by an old woman in return for grudgingly giving her an apple, Natasha choose a palace where she can invent new rooms at will.
At first happy, Natasha soon grows tired of her lavish palace and, regretting her wish, is transformed into a blue bird, In this guise, she is able to fly over the land and comes to understand the hardships endured by others. On returning to her lonely palace, she devotes her time to making jams and breads which she distributes at night to those in need by changing once again into the blue bird.
Finally, she is returned home to her father, a changed and better person.
Beautiful illustrations are based on traditional Russian folk art, creating stunning spreads. Vibrant colours bring each page vividly to life- rich reds and brilliant blues mingling with softer shades. The image of Natasha's mother, Anna, rising from the house enveloped in shades of blue when she has died, is beautifully done. Any of the pictures could be used to gather quality vocabulary and develop the children's use of synonyms and antonyms- for example, to describe the different colours used. They would also be perfect for inspiring work on Russian folk art which would support all the aims of the Art P of S for KS1 and 2!
- produce creative work, exploring their ideas and recording their experiences;
- become proficient in drawing, painting, sculpture and other art, craft and design techniques;
- evaluate and analyse creative works using the language of art, craft and design;
- know about great artists, craft makers and designers, and understand the historical and cultural development of their art forms.
The illustrations are matched by a rich use of language- 'she could change as suddenly as the weather-sweet as sunshine if she got her own way, savage as a storm if she did not.' The story could be described as a 'voyage and return' plot, lending itself as a model for children creating their own variations on this theme.
The story also offers much for discussion with its 'message' about valuing the simplier things in life and caring about what we have which is a very relevant one in the materialistic age we live in.
The Blue Bird's Palace by Orianne Lallemand, illustrated by Carole Henaff
Barefoot Books ISBN: 978-1846868856