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Max and Bird


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When Max meets Bird, Max thinks he'd like to be friends with Bird. He would also like to chase Bird and maybe eat him as a tasty snack.

About the Author

Ed Vere studied fine art at Camberwell College of Art and has been writing and illustrating children's books since 1999. He is published in both England and the US. Ed is also a painter, working from his studio in east London, and is represented by galleries in London and Los Angeles. After a year and a half living in Barcelona, Ed now lives and works in London.


Ed Vere has a unique style of artwork for his picture books. The colours are vibrant, the characters are distinctive, the style is a little bit scrappy, in a very charming way. We are big fans in our house so we sat down eagerly to read the latest offering. Here we have Max, a sweet black cat with enormous eyes who meets and befriends a bird. Well, initially his plan is that they play chase and then Max will eat up Bird for a tasty snack but Bird has another idea...
I love how lively Ed Vere's books are. They are often use very simple words, sometimes without sentences, but in this instance there's more text. It is all very easily understood, however, by toddlers and older children alike. The story starts with the funny premise of a cat and a bird wanting to be friends, and with an agreement between the two that first Max will try to help Bird learn to fly, and then after that they can think about the whole chasing and tasty snack thing! When it comes down to it, however, Max finds that he has no idea how to teach Bird to fly.
They decide to visit the library (much to this Librarian's delight) and there they take out lots of helpful books that they spend a very long time reading together. Then they put in a great deal of effort in actually trying to fly. It's all they can think about all day long, and so they find it's all they dream about during the night too! In the end they ask a pigeon for some tips. He, rather unhelpfully, tells them they should just stick out their wings and flap, and then he does lots of showing off flying! After a long time Bird does in fact manage to fly, and of course then he tells Max that since a deal is a deal he'd better eat him up, which means Max goes away to do a lot of thinking about what he wants to do...
I won't reveal the ending, but it's safe for bedtime reading! I love how wonderfully expressive two such simply drawn characters can be. There's a great deal of movement and energy through the book, and both Max and Bird say everything, really, with their huge eyes. All of the illustrations are engaging and sweet and funny, though I especially like the picture of Max and Bird in a large checked armchair, reading a book titled 'How to Fly'. I also like the showing off pigeon page. Silly old pigeon! Each page has a bright background, and the pictures have various layouts from full two page spreads to smaller, panel pictures.
You can have a good chat about cats, and what it's like to find a dismembered animal on the floor, if that's the sort of thing that rocks your toddler's boat. Or you can just enjoy a sweet story about how a friendship grows and develops. I like it as a demonstration of the rewards from trying hard...always a good lesson to instil I think. Though I hope my little boy doesn't now think that if he just flaps hard enough he'll be able to fly too! Lovely for bedtimes, or any time really.

* The Bookbag *
Ed Vere's ever-delightful Max the kitten returns for another adventure [...] shot through with Vere's trademark irreverent wit, which will keep adult readers amused through multiple readings -- Michelle Paul * The Guardian *

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