Welcome, bookish creatures of all persuasions, to this Maniacal Book Club review. Today we are discussing the wordless graphic novel BirdCatDog by Lee Nordling and Meritxell Bosch.
BirdCatDog is a wordless picture book that follows three animals (guess which ones!) simultaneously as they go about their daily errands. For each animal, there is at least one surprise in store and as paths cross and some other animals from the wild side of the fence make an appearance, things become very tangled indeed. All ends happily enough though, and the reader is left with the message that no matter who the “main character” portrayed in the story happens to be, we are all the heroes of our own little
Creatures of flesh, creatures of stone – it matters not. What matters, dear friends, as is pointed out to us in this tale-with-a-hidden-message is that perspective is all important! Each of us sees the story in our own way, but if we look at it from a different angle, we may notice something we haven’t seen before.
This book will help you to look at things from a new perspective. Perhaps if Messrs Nordling and Bosch were to follow us all around and document our daily doings in such a way as they have for these lucky animals, there would be much less conflict in the world. It is possible.
No dragons in this book. There is a wolfish big dog, and a hawkish bird of prey and a nasty looking mountainish cat, so if you mashed them all together they would make a pretty cool predator creature.
I liked the way the stories get all mixed up at the end and how each animal gets into scary trouble and gets chased around by bigger, nastier animals.
There’s no words either, which is good because sometimes it’s better just to look at the pictures really closely and make up your own story. It would be better if there was at least a small dragon in it.
A dog, a cat, a bird
form a story and each gets a third.
So keep your eyes peeled
once they’re further afield
or you may find your path becomes blurred.
Take it from me folks, this book is going to be a hit in upper years primary classrooms, because there is nothing more fun than a wordless book with a complex story. BirdCatDog is unusual in that it sets up a challenge for the reader right at the very beginning – do you try and “read” it like a normal book and take in the story in its entirety, page by page, or do you follow the handily colour-coded strips and take it in one animal protagonist at a time? And if you pick the latter option, which animal will you choose to follow first?
The genius element to this book is that it demands rereading. In order to appreciate the overarching story, you simply have to flick back to the beginning multiple times, so this will be a great choice for engaging those reluctant readers in a book-based activity.
The art is beautifully done in a cartoon style, with the colour-coding followed throughout to lend continuity – blue for bird, green for cat and yellow for dog. The imagery in each vignette is deceptively simple, but when taken together at the page level, creates a complex visual experience that demands closer attention.
Another engaging element of the book is the questions posed by all the characters in the story – who is the hero of the story? Are there multiple heroes? How can that be? There is so much potential here for the classroom in opening up discussion about storytelling and bias – whose perspective is important and who gets left out? How do we decide whose perspective is the most important?
Leaving the classroom applications to the side though, this book is simply a visual treat and will provide plenty of entertainment for readers young and old as they unravel and then retangle the threads of each creature’s escapades. I definitely recommend having a look at BirdCatDog if you are a fan of stories told in a visual medium (and even if you aren’t!).
Until next time,
Bruce (and the gang!)
*I received a digital copy of this title for review from the publisher via NetGalley*