Warning: this review contains spoilers!
It’s wonderful to have a review from an expert in wordless picture books! Caged is our latest wordless book, with beautiful illustrations and a powerful message of freedom. Read Dr Lina Iordanaki’s thoughtful review below!
This is the powerful story of some overambitious men and a witty bluebird. It is the story of two different worlds brought together on the ashes of a tree and the poignant illustrations of Duncan Annand.
The reader follows the actions of two men; after cutting and burning a tree, they build a peculiar “palace”, piling up birdcages with colourful parrots. On the left pages, the bluebird peacefully builds her own nest, wondering about the humans’ intentions. She then flies over the palace and sits on the top. The building miraculously collapses, the parrots fly free and the two men are suddenly found trapped into their own construction.
The first half of the book could unfortunately be based on a true story of arson. The second half shows how the real story should end, with an optimistic twist that gives justice to nature and a glimmer of hope. It raises questions, such as: Why do humans need to destroy in order to create? Why do they need to trap other creatures in order to admire them? Should some animals be free and others not? Where do human and animal rights meet?
Most importantly, the author invites the reader to answer these questions without using a single word. The layout, the deliberate use of colour (black-and-white humans vs colourful birds), the detailed description of the palace construction on a minimalist background, all visually designed to create a thought-provoking wordless tale of freedom and retribution.
Tiny Owl should be proud to add this beautiful piece of work to their campaign on the affordances of wordless picture books. Caged is indeed captivating. And contrary to its name, Caged has the power to set the reader’s imagination free.
*Dr Lina Iordanaki completed her PhD in Children’s Literature at the University of Cambridge, exploring how children from different countries engage with wordless picture books. She is also on the committee of the International Board of Books for Young People (IBBY).
- Watch the trailer for Caged!
- Discover the discussion about wordless picture books
- Read an interview with creator Duncan Annand
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