He led Eugene to the window of the atrium. It was alive with the songs of the birds. "I see sparrows, jays, cardinals, nuthatches ... and the mallards. Don't all those beautiful types and colors make this a beautiful place to be -- for all of them?"
Mr. Lincoln is the main character in the story about a troubled child, Mean Gene, who is the biggest bully in the school. Mr. Lincoln is principal of the school who takes this bully - with his racial slurs and physical agression - and celebrates the child's obvious love and knowledge of birds. Together they work to make their school atrium a place where birds of all types and colors come together, and Eugene is changed by the experience.
It was hushed as I read this story. That's what I love about a Patricia Polacco story - they really grab an audience. Although they are picture books, many are written for a more mature audience. This one has always been one of my favorites (of course, I like all of her books that make the teachers the heroes!).
After I read the story, I asked the children to draw a picture of a spectacular bird - one of their own imagination. I said, "Imagine yourself as a bird. What would you look like? What color would you be?" Then they added their names and listed at least one thing that made them unique - It could be their religion, cultural background, hobbies, or anything else that made them special and could be celebrated.
Here are three that I thought turned out especially well: