Extraordinary imagery and rich language spark the reader's imagination as they enter the creative world of a young girl.

From award-winning author Meg McKinlay and celebrated artist Matt Ottley comes a moving and visually stunning picture book that celebrates the transformative power of the creative process from inception through recognition to celebration and releasing into the world. We shadow the protagonist as she contemplates the blue print of an idea, collects the things that inspire from the natural world to shape a bird. And breathes life into it before letting it fly free. It shows how small things, combined with a little imagination and a steady heart, can transform into works of magic.


Meg McKinlay is the author of over twenty books ranging from picture books and young adult fiction through to poetry for adults. Raised in central Victoria, in a TV- and car-free household, Meg was a bookish kid, in love with words and excited by dictionaries. On the long and winding path to becoming a children’s writer, she has worked a variety of jobs including swim instructor, tour guide, translator and teacher. Meg is now a full-time writer and lives near the ocean in Fremantle, Western Australia, where she is always busy cooking up more books.

Matt Ottley is an internationally acclaimed and multi-award winning artist, working equally across the fields of literature, visual arts and music. Matt has a plethora of published picture books to his name and his awards include the CBCA Picture Book of the Year, the Queensland and NSW Premier's Awards for literature and the International IBBY Australia Illustrator Award and has been shortlisted for the Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. In 2014, Matt was made an Endorsed Yamaha Artist for his work as a composer. He has worked with The West Australian Symphony Orchestra on scores for many of his picture books, and has had a large symphonic work recorded by the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno, Czech Republic. His music has also been performed at the Perth International Arts Festival, the Perth Fringe Festival and the Hong Kong International Literary Festival.


If you love a picture book that speaks to your soul and leaves thoughts and images in your head long after you close the cover, I highly recommend How to Make a Bird.

Kids' Book Review

How To Make a Bird is a stunner of a picture book. In heart-shivering, lyrical prose, Meg McKinlay details the process of creating a bird, and, in doing so, illuminates the transformative potential of the creative process


one of those special ones – thought-provoking, challenging and an absolute delight to explore


McKinlay’s tone is stately, the pace deliciously deliberate—“But when you see it sitting,/ cold as a statue, you will know/ that there is more to a bird than/ these things you have given it”—allowing space for readers to savor Ottley’s luminous pigmented ink illustrations, which reveal extratextual details, for example about the child’s bird-making materials. A beautiful rumination on creating. Starred review.


Delicately written and illustrated, How to Make a Bird is a divine picture book that speaks many different meanings to the reader.

Educate Empower Blog


Prime Minister's Literary Awards, Children's Literature
CBCA Book of the Year Awards, Picture Book
Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards, Writing for Children
Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Crystal Kite Award
Queensland Literary Awards, Children's Book Award
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