Birds of the Air: Seeing the Hidden Value that God Sees – S.E.M. Ishida and Wendy Tan

Birds of the Air: Seeing the Hidden Value that God Sees by S.E.M. Ishida, Wendy Tan
Published by B&H Publishing, B&H Kids on September 7, 2021
Genres: Children's, Bible Stories
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Set against the backdrop of Jesus’ baptism, Birds of the Air is a fictional tale about where true value lies. 
At the start of the story, several birds hear that God’s Spirit will descend on Jesus in the form of a bird, but no one knows which bird. Immediately, they begin to compare themselves, boasting about why each should be God’s symbol—the peacock for his beauty, the eagle for his strength, and the parrot for his smarts. But the dove, the least impressive bird of all, has more in common with Jesus than the other birds realize.
Told in thoughtful prose with a fable-like quality, Birds of the Air will capture the imaginations of children, ages 4-8, while highlighting that God sees the hidden value in each of us and chooses the least likely among us for His great purposes.

This picture book shares a fictional story surrounding the events of Jesus’s baptism. The book’s opening page explains to children that even though God has blessed us with the truth of His Word, He has also given us imaginations, which we can use to create make-believe stories that reflect His truth, just as Jesus did through parables. I appreciated this simple introduction, which clarifies any potential confusion while also providing a healthy, positive view of the human imagination.

Throughout the book, different types of birds compare themselves, talking about how they reflect different elements of God’s character. They know that the Holy Spirit will appear in the shape of a bird at Jesus’s baptism, and they all hope that God will choose them to serve as a divine symbol. Other birds laugh at the dove for thinking God could use him, but when God appears, He chooses the dove as a symbol that Jesus has come for all people, including the poor, who could only afford to offer doves as temple sacrifices. The end of the story portrays Jesus’s baptism, and after that, the publisher includes two pages with Scripture references and discussion questions that parents can explore with their children.

Birds of the Air: Seeing the Hidden Value that God Sees is quality Christian fiction for little ones, with expressive text from S.E.M. Ishida and beautiful, sometimes breathtaking illustrations from Wendy Tan. The colors are radiant, and the illustrations depict emotions in a clear, engaging way. Also, when God’s voice appears in the book, Ishida keeps His words in tune with Scripture, choosing phrases and concepts that God has expressed, instead of putting words in His mouth. This is an ideal fictional story with connections to Scripture, with a wonderful message about humility and God’s heart for the poor.