By: Thomas Smith
Publication Date: December 30, 2022
Reviewed by: Rebecca Jane Johnson
Review Date: April 12, 2023
For bird enthusiasts of all ages, The Search for King: A Fable is a lovely ode to ornithology.
Author Thomas Smith has created a perfect duo; amazing real photographs of birds accompanied by an original poem. What a delight to discover the poem is a rhyming fable! So, yes it is a perfect picture book to entertain the youngest of readers. But, the educational quality and the metaphorical suggestions make this an interesting read for all ages. The photographs of birds perching, flying, preening—are breathtaking; thus, it qualifies as a good coffee table book, too. Additionally, The Search for King: A Fable delivers an entertaining story: imagine the bird kingdom needs to choose a king—and what kind of criteria would birds use to reflect the dignity of the King of All Birds?
Smith sets out to enhance the reader’s enjoyment of birds through fable. Blackbirds step up first and proclaim that the leader must have black feathers. Each bird is given a chance to make the case for their own kind. The Red-winged blackbirds promote their red epaulets as the “mien of royalty;” while the yellow blackbirds boast that they already wear a yellow crown and should therefore be voted King. Many birds step up, from the Northern Mockingbird to the Nuthatch to the Barn Swallow to the Tufted Titmouse and more; each bird gets their say. There is a surprising mystical element and an interesting turn in the fable. The ending is emotionally satisfying, offering a gentle invitation to ponder leadership that relies on character rather than color. Plus, the story celebrates a process of choosing leadership that highlights every voice and view, a process always striving for and working with an inclusive approach.
The Search for King: A Fable contemplates diversity, acceptance, and personal values. Of course, the tension of the story hinges on the reality of pride and ego. But nature’s creatures can and should be proud. Let birds flaunt their feathers! Amidst all the competition, what gives strength to help every creature balance a sense of self-acceptance with acceptance of others? That’s a lifelong learning process.
Quill says: This pairing of bird images with a delightful rhyme about choosing leadership and embracing inclusive diversity is a clever way to consider challenging human dilemmas while also enjoying birds.
To learn more about The Search for King: A Fable, please visit the author’s website at: authorthomassmith.com/