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When a little bird awakens to find that all of his friends and family have gone south for the winter, it takes a surprising friendship with Mooch the cat to help him find his way. This is a wordless and profoundly moving story—by the creator of the beloved comic strip Mutts—that explores being lost and found, crossing boundaries, saying goodbye, and broadening horizons.

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When a little bird awakens to find that all of his friends and family have gone south for the winter, it takes a surprising friendship with Mooch the cat to help him find his way. This is a wordless and profoundly moving story—by the creator of the beloved comic strip Mutts—that explores being lost and found, crossing boundaries, saying goodbye, and broadening horizons.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Mutts:

*National Cartoonist Society Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year 1999
*National Cartoonist Society Reuben Award for Comic Strip of the Year 1997
*Harvey Award for Best Comic Strip 1997, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003
*PETA Humanitarian Award 2001

Praise for The Gift of Nothing:

"Both Mutts fans and newcomers will appreciate McDonnell's clever wordplay and lovable characters."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Praise for Just Like Heaven:

"McDonnell delivers his message with maximum effectiveness."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Publishers Weekly

McDonnell (The Gift of Nothing) continues a winning run of books about friendship starring the clown-nosed cat Mooch. Abandoning dialogue and experimenting with ink-wash sketches, McDonnell introduces a bird whose flock has flown south without him. Scene after scene delivers an emotional wallop as the bird realizes with a shock that his friends have departed (petite drops of sweat leap off his head), collapses in tears (the words "weep weep weep" appear above him), then gazes in amazement at Mooch's extended paw, a wordless offer to take him to his friends. This small-format book is as neatly paced as a Chaplin movie, with the same tugging at the heartstrings and silent humor. Ages 3-6. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
A bird singing on a branch with only one leaf introduces this heart-warming, almost wordless story. Many other birds leave the tree. The single bird is awakened from a nap by the falling leaf, only to find itself alone. Mooch, McDonnell's delightful cat character, takes it upon himself to lead the weeping bird through streets, woods and even snow. After a long trek, they hear singing. On an electrical or telephone wire sits a chorus of other welcoming birds. Mooch and the bird hug farewell. Then they all fly away, leaving Mooch with a song and the satisfaction, when back home, of a good deed. Shades of gray paint affectionately applied define character while washes of color add contextual interest: clumps of brown grass, sweeps of blue sky, red for Mooch's nose, etc. The visual tale is enhanced by musical notes and some sleepy Zz's rather than redundant words. The gentle story delivers pleasant emotions along with a positive message. Check out the contrasting jacket and cover. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 3

McDonnell has composed another quiet gem. Literally. The sole sounds are birdsong, weeping, and snoring; the only words appear on signs: "South" and "Walk." The season is fall, and the chorus comes from a flock perched in a nearly bare tree. In the next instant, the birds lift off, and, as the pages turn, the last leaf drops, bonking a slumbering bird on the head at the base of the tree. Anyone who has every experienced the thought of being abandoned or feeling lost will relate to the utterly convincing panic conveyed in the artist's expressive watercolors and emotive lines as it dawns on this tiny creature that he has been left behind. Yet, he is not alone. Enter Mooch, the feline protagonist from the artist's comic strip "Mutts." He offers a hand, leading and carrying his young charge through rural and urban landscapes, until the birds are joyfully reunited. McDonnell's comfort with unfilled expanses, his beautifully balanced compositions, and the nature of his brushwork evoke the feel of traditional Chinese art. Tan recycled paper provides warmth in keeping with this tender, compact story. While it will be enjoyed universally, be sure to place it where nonreaders will find it, and remember it when asked for a Good Samaritan story. Its subtle sweetness is a rare and wonderful thing.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316005098
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 9/1/2008
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 217,899
  • Product dimensions: 8.08 (w) x 10.88 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Patrick McDonnell

Patrick McDonnell is the creator of the Mutts comic strip, which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. He has illustrated for the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Reader's Digest, Time, Parents, and other journals, done CD covers for the Greatest Hits classical music series, and created a license plate for his home state of New Jersey. Hailed as "the next Charles Schulz," Patrick sits on the board of directors of the Humane Society of the United States, and has won numerous awards for both Mutts and his animal welfare work. He is the author of The Gift of Nothing, Art, Just Like Heaven, and Hug Time, and the co-author of Krazy Kat: The Comic Art of George Herriman.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer


    McDonnell, P. (2008). South. New York: Little, Brown and Company.


    With an initial plot similar to the movie Home Alone, one little birdie sleeps in and is left behind when his flock flies south for the winter. A friendly cat guides the little bird in the right direction to be reunited with the other birds.

    This almost wordless picturebook (there is a little weeping), uses a few neutral colors to show the transition of colors between fall and winter. While children will immediately sympathize with the bird and the experience of being lost, what was most endearing for me was that the cat takes the bird by the wing and guides it with her paw (think holding hands, animal style). Added to this, part of their journey takes them into a human city and both the bird and cat seem small and childlike, perhaps sending the message that children can help children.

    Activities to do with the book:

    This book can trigger a discussion of the experience of being lost with young children. A teacher or parent could make suggestions of who a young person can approach if they find themselves lost or left behind.

    To go another direction, a teacher could also discuss the seasons and their influence upon birds and other animals.

    If a classroom pairs with a class of older students, this book could be used to help introduce the mentor-mentee relationship.

    For more of my reviews, visit

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  • Posted October 31, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    South is a wonderful tale that your child can read to you!

    McDonnell's expressive art leads in this heartwarming tale of a little lost bird and a sweet cat who responsibly and kindly helps him find his way. Destined to be a classic.....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2008

    South is Sweet!

    Mooch befriends a little bird and shows what true friendship is all about.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2008

    Nobel Peace Prize for P McDonnell

    Ever since I read my first MUTTS strip quite by accident, I have been desperately addicted to the noblest of all creatures: a Mooch, an Earl, & most of all, the man who brings their gifts to us, Patrick McDonnell. He is a comfort to us indeed in this oft difficult world. This deceivingly 'simple' story is as deep as they come, & though they are all precious, this is his most endearing book by far. It is a quiet, soulful journey from the start, when the baby bird's tears appeal to Mooch's earnest heart. Mooch then offers his hand, his back, and his gentle guidance to the bird in a quest south to find his family. Though it is entitled 'South', it is the journey rather than the destination that gives this story meaning. We watch Mooch play the role of an older sibling, a loving friend, a calm parent attuned to the needs of one who is younger & inexperienced. A telling moment is when Mooch appears to shorten his much needed '& loved' nap in deference to a young child's impatience with all things 'unnecessary'. When at last, they find the bird's family, Mooch has his own tears to contend with- tears of a gift proffered & a gift received. And what a precious gift it is- If you are having a hard day or hard moment, pick up a MUTTS book, and you will find your way back to the light. Required reading for all ages.

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    Posted December 29, 2008

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    Posted October 29, 2008

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    Posted December 4, 2008

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