Whilst two men chop down trees to create a clearing for their elaborate aviary filled with colourful parrots, a little bluebird constructs her nest in the boughs of a neighbouring tree. Here she lays her eggs, watching as the cages are piled higher and higher until at last a dome is placed on the very top. As the men below celebrate. the tiny bird flutters over and lands in top of the structure with disastrous consequences for the men and freedom for the parrots.
One of the many joys of wordless picture books is the freedom they give the reader to develop their own story. Different people bring different things to the pictures, placing emphasis on and giving attention to different details. Why are the men constructing this? Why here? What is it for?
Each parrot is caged in isolation in a space barely large enough for it to stretch it wings. The blue bird, in contrast, is free, laying its eggs in its own nest, yet is driven by curiosity to investigate the structure the men have created. Did it mean to free its fellow birds or was this a happy accident? Having caused chaos, the little bird returns to its home and watches as the beautiful, brightly coloured parrots flee to theirs. The only colour used is for the birds, leaving the men- and everything else - as empty outlines.
The story encourages you to think about freedom and what it means. It shows that the actions of the individual can make a real difference to the plans of those in charge. In ‘Caged’, the men get their comeuppance; the birds, their liberty. ‘Caged’ is a wonderfully illustrated tale about freedom and helping others.
Caged Duncan Annand
Tiny Owl ISBN:978-1910328316