Bye Bye Birdie by Shirley Hughes

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Bye Bye Birdies by Shirley Hughes

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Category: Graphic Novels
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: Shirley Hughes moves from children's books to a graphic novel for adults. It's got all her usual charm, style and gorgeous illustrations. A gentle adventure (despite the crazed bird!) to treasure. Shirley Hughes was also kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: April 2009
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
ISBN: 978-0224080750

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Ah, who doesn't love Shirley Hughes? We've all read and cherished Alfie and Dogger over the years. Bye Bye Birdie is her first graphic novel for adults, and it's as great as you'd expect it to be. A man goes on a date with a woman, but things don't turn out how he expected.

I was most reminded of old silent comedy films - a light adventure, the gentle slapstick, the man in his boater and bow tie. The surrealism of a woman turning into a bird and chasing after the man keeps it fresh and quirky. There are no words, just pictures, and the core story is very simple, but it's well-executed. It's fun, it's enjoyable, it's delightful. It feels like an old favourite already.

Of course the main reason for that is Shirley Hughes' glorious illustrations. She has a distinctive style that feels at once charming, old-fashioned, warm and much-loved, as well as being original and individual. She's the only person able to truly pull off that type of drawing. The man's range of expressions are a joy to observe. The scratchiness of the pen and ink suit the birds perfectly - so much so that I can almost smell the sooty mustiness that you get if a blackbird ever gets into your room.

Although Bye Bye Birdie is aimed at adults, there's no reason why you couldn't read it with children too. "Man gets chased by bird and has crazy adventure" - kids'll love it, especially if you do lots of squawking as you look at the pictures together.

The simple story, gently executed, is what makes Bye Bye Birdie so charming, but I wonder whether it could have had another plot strand woven in, just to give it a little more depth. Maybe that's just petty nitpicking because I'm not that used to adult graphic novels. I really enjoyed Bye Bye Birdie, and you will too.

My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

A Day in the Life of Alfred by Oivind Hovland is another graphic novel well worth checking out. The Rough Guide to Graphic Novels by Danny Fingeroth is a great starting point for anyone new to the genre.

Bookinterviews.jpg Shirley Hughes was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.

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Buy Bye Bye Birdie by Shirley Hughes at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Bye Bye Birdie by Shirley Hughes at


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