The story of how birds got their colors is beautifully told by Vlasta van Kampen through her vibrant, colorful illustrations.
Mother Nature has been very busy creating a wonderful world, but among all her responsibilities the birds have been overlooked: they are colorless! When she realizes what has happened, Mother Nature quickly sets about correcting her mistake. She calls on some special helpers, the monkeys.
They arrive with pots of paints and baskets overflowing. All the birds assemble and the monkeys paint them in turn, until each is beautiful and unique. Some are speckled, some brightly colored, some striped. When the coloring is done, the birds experiment with bills and beaks and crests, deciding what they like and how they wish to dress themselves.
It is a grand time, and when they are finished, a wonderful celebration follows as they all dance together. Into the middle of the festivities flies one small, tired bird. He has gotten lost on his way and fears he has arrived too late to receive his colors.
Sadly, the monkeys look around and discover only two pots left - one with a drop of brown paint and the other with a drop of gold. They mix the brown paint with sweet nectar and paint the little bird all over. He had hoped to be bright and beautiful, however, so he remains sad.
Then the duck has a wonderful idea. She asks the little bird to open his mouth, and into it she lets fall the single drop of gold paint. When the little bird opens his mouth to chirp, out comes the sweetest sound any of the birds have heard.close this panel
Vlasta van Kampen graduated from the Ontario College of Art and studied typography and design in Amsterdam. She has illustrated over thirty books, including Muddle Cuddle (1997), Monkey Tales (1998), Bear Tales (1999) and What's the Difference? (2000). Vlasta's professional work also includes poster design and illustration, cassette and CD covers, and advertising and promotional work. She lives in Toronto with her husband.close this panel
Included in the "Great Books for Children" program.
A Drop of Gold is a simple yet satisfying story. The plot develops quickly, and Van Kampen uses some interesting vocabulary (e.g.. bill and comb). While the story is well-told, it is Van Kampen's illustrations which really captivate the reader. Her watercolour paintings are filled with vivid colours, movement and expression. They contain a great flock of birds, including a toucan, parrot, blue jay owl and penguin. Overall, A Drop of Gold would be a great addition to library and classroom collections focusing on appreciating differences. A straightforward story with a positive message, it was the only book out of a pile of seven that my four-year-old son requested to be read twice. Highly Recommended.