Shh! We Have a Plan

Four friends creep through the woods, and what do they spot? An exquisite bird high in a tree! “Hello birdie,” waves one. “Shh! We have a plan,” hush the others. They stealthily make their advance, nets in the air. Ready one, ready two, ready three, and go! But as one comically foiled plan follows another, it soon becomes clear that their quiet, observant companion, hand outstretched, has a far better idea.

One thought on “Shh! We Have a Plan

  1. Holly Johnson & Becca Gasiewicz says:

    Reading the selections from the USBBY Outstanding International Books 2015 has been such a pleasure! With a total of 42 books across all age groups, engaging with some of the picture books that were honored this year has revealed that regardless of format, genre, or nation of origin, there is a deep element of thoughtfulness that transcends cultural and geographical borders. This thoughtfulness doesn’t mean the books aren’t bright, beautiful, or fun, however! I noticed in the selections we chose to target this month that most have a bit of quirkiness in them that will delight readers across the age-groups. See what you think, Becca!
    For instance, Shh! We Have a Plan (Haughton, 2014) is really quite hilarious! These four friends bumble around the woods and spot a boldly-colored exquisite bird! The smallest (youngest?) friend calls out, “Hello, Birdie!” The others (older/bigger) friends shush the younger explaining they have a plan. Trying to catch the bird through a series of mishaps, (and a battle cry of one, two three . . . go!) the older/bigger friends are confounded in their attempts to capture the lovely bird. They discover, however, that by feeding the bird bread — offering something rather than trying to take something — is what brings the bird closer. But it’s not just one bird, dozens of birds engage with the young friend, and when the older friends try to capture one of the birds, the whole flock rebels! Running away brings the friends to another conquest . . . a squirrel! It seems that the older companions have not quite learned!
    This book is delightful while also presenting a deeper meaning to the story. What is the reason for the conquest of the bird? What processes work and don’t work for engaging the exotic? Older students could examine the book as an analogy for international exploitation and the ways in which dominant cultures attempt to engage the other. A really interesting book out of the United Kingdom that can be read on multiple levels. What do you think, Becca?
    I agree! This book is absolutely and delightfully hilarious. The most intriguing and engaging part of this text for me are the illustrations. The facial expressions of each of the characters add so much to the telling of the story. As you described, Holly, the bigger or older three seem to be all-knowing when they attempt to catch the brightly-colored bird, yet the smallest or youngest appears to be the wisest. Even on the front cover of the book, you can see he stands apart from the rest. He is the one who makes the discovery that giving to the bird is more effective in creating closeness with the bird and many other birds for that matter, yet the older three are slow to catch on to this knowledge.
    There also seems to be some significance to the bright coloring of the bird and the squirrel and the facial expression of the bird. All of the illustrations are shades of blue except the bird and the squirrel. As you said Holly, this appears to be symbolic for the exotic and perhaps what is drawing the young friends to become closer. The bird’s expression is peaceful and calm even as the friends attempt to catch the bird with nets. It is as if the bird knows it can outsmart them. I agree that this text would be appropriate across all ages as there are a number of levels of meaning present and of course, humor.

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