Taking Care: The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc
LION WAS WORKING IN HIS GARDEN ONE DAY WHEN HE HEARD A SOUND.
Lion looks around and sees a fallen bird, with a broken wing.
"OH, YOU POOR LITTLE THING!
LET'S BANDAGE YOU UP!"
As Lion gently picks him up, he follows the bird's anguished gaze and see his flock vanishing over the horizon.
Lion reassures the bird that he will be welcome to stay over the winter in his warm safe house, and he keeps his promise.
Bird's wing heals, but he remains with Lion, and slowly Lion's lonely life changes as he shares it with his new companion. Tucked warm and safe in little nest inside Lion's woolly winter cap, Bird looks out as Lion ventures outside in the strange, wintry snowscape. Lion takes him on his toboggan, where they whiz down hills or stop for a bit of ice fishing at the lake. At night they enjoy the warmth of the fireplace, Bird tucked snugly inside one of Lion's slippers, and spend the long evenings in quiet companionship. Lion realizes that winter is not so hard and long with a friend.
But as the winter passes into early spring, as snowdrops poke their buds through the melting snow, Bird seems to grow restless with the fireside. And one day, when they are outside, he perches on a limb and looks up to see a flight of birds heading north, and he knows what he must do.
HE LOOKS DOWN AT LION.
"YES," LION SAYS. "I KNOW."
Bird flies away with the flock, looking back, as on the ground Lion grows smaller and smaller in view behind him.
"SOMETIMES LIFE IS LIKE THAT," SAYS LION SOFTLY.
Lion is alone again. He is sad to be without Bird, but he still watches the sky, in hope that his friend will not forget him.
Marianne Dubuc's The Lion and the Bird (Enchanted Lion Books, 2014) is a gently told parable that touches on many of the qualities of relationships--caring, sharing, and finding closeness, but also giving the other the freedom to do what he must. Like the prodigal, of course, Bird returns when the cold winds begin to blow, to share Lion's cozy house for the winter as their friendship continues. Although there are deep meanings in this story, Dubuc's easy narrative, combining humor, loss, longing, and love and her nuanced, evocative drawings make it easy for young readers to sense these truths. "... a remarkably moving, and—considering it features two animals—deeply human story," says Publishers Weekly in their starred review.
For slightly older primary students, this one makes a great compare-and-contrast read aloud along with Sergio Ruzzier's similar A Letter for Leo.