Corinne Fenton: One Lone Swallow

Illustrated by Owen Swan

Published by New Frontier Publishing, NSW, 2020

I have been fortunate to visit Italy and stay a few days in Florence. Standing on the rooftop of the hotel one night, we saw great plumes of birds weaving, swirling and soaring in the dusky, velvet afternoon sky. The birds were flying swiftly, and as one, with choreographed elegance over rooftops, dome and piazzas. They reminded me of the great shoals of fish in the ocean, but these birds were pirouetting not in the deep water, but gracefully flying in the autumnal air.

Corinne Fenton’s picture book about one lone swallow has taken me straight back to that magical moment. Beginning with the peel of bells, one lone swallow embarks on a search for her mate who has not returned to their shared nest. Over Brunelleschi’s dome, through cobblestoned streets, under bridges, through arches and over piazzas, the lone swallow searches for him. Finally, at the feet of the massive statue of David, the swallow finds him tangled in shoemaker’s twine. But can she save him before danger arrives?

Using a limited colour palette of browns, greys, purples and blues, Owen Swan has evoked the magic of Italy in this beautifully illustrated picture book. The story itself is elegant and poetic, giving the reader an insight into the drama that can beset a bird, or anyone, on any given day. The lone swallow’s bravery, persistence and ingenuity in this story makes the ending a happy one.

I can highly recommend this picture book for children 2-6 years and below are more suggestions for my favourite picture books about birds:

The Story About Ping
by Marjorie Flack
Illustrated by Kurt Wiese

Birds by Kevin Henkes
Illustrated by Laura Dronzek

White Owl, Barn Owl
by Nicola Davies

A Nest is Noisy by
Dianne Hutts Aston
Illustrated by Sylvia Long

Bluebird by Bob Staake

Bring on the Birds
by Susan Stockdale

King of the Sky by Nicola Davies Illustrated by Laura Carlin

Angleo by David Macaulay

Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares

Silly Birds by Gregg Dreise

Bird to Bird by Claire Saxby Illustrated by Wayne Harris

There is a Bird on Your Head
by Mo Willems

The Go-Away Bird
by Julia Donaldson
Illustrated by Catherine Rayner

Just Ducks! by Nicola Davies Illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino

Make Way for the Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell Illustrated by Patrick Benson

On the Wing by David Elliott Illustrated by Becca Stadtlander

The Lion and Bird
by Marianne Dubuc

Alexander’s Outing
by Pamela Allen