I recently joined Net Galley and one of my first picks was an Ed Vere picture book featuring Max the cat (who has also starred in Max the Brave and Max at Night), called Max and Bird.
Max is a dishevelled cat, more of a kitten really, who means well, but is slightly clueless. I think I warm to Max because I have a cat called Derek, who is much the same, and really struggles with the basic principles of how to be a great cat. She is an excellent Derek, but her cat skills leave much to be desired.
One day Max sees a bird and decides that he probably wants to eat it. Bird, unsurprisingly, is not keen, and suggests they try friendship instead. In order to give Max time to think about this, Bird rather magnanimously in the circumstances, suggests that Max helps Bird learn how to fly, and if at the end of the process he still wants to eat Bird, they’ll talk it through.
There is a joyous section where Max and Bird try to figure out flying, and quite rightly, spend a great deal of time in their local library, reading books from the low shelves because they’re too short to reach the top shelves.
The book is in Vere’s trademark frenetic style of illustration with some really wonderful facial expressions that make the book very funny indeed. He uses his usual bright pops of colour as background to the otherwise minimal content. I really like this technique for making both Max and Bird seem tiny (like the reader) but also the whole focus of the attention because of their shape against the big blocks of colour.
This is funny and has a charming lesson about what makes a friendship work, that is so touching because it isn’t too saccharine, which works perfectly for me as a reader.
The book will be available to buy on September 5, 2017, and if you like Ed Vere you will find it a fantastic addition to his previous work. A great bed time sharing book and a good addition to any Early Years reading corner. Ideal for readers aged 3-6.