I have learned to approach Michael Morpurgo books with some caution - whether it be a chapter book or a picture book, he is likely to make me cry at some point.
A plucky robin, lost and alone, sets out on an epic journey, guided only by a call in his heart saying “come home!” He wills his wings to beat faster, lifting him over great mountains and dark forests, through blinding blizzards and rolling fog, across the wide, wild sea. Can he find his way back to his family in time for Christmas?
Yeah, this isn't going to be pretty. I mean, just a few pages in:
"Heavy my wings and heavy my heart,
Will I ever see my home again?"
Good gravy, Michael, you're writing for children!! (And sniffling librarians).
Don't worry, of course he arrives safely home (although with Morpurgo you can't be too sure), and it was actually the people who made my eyes prickle. Not a lighthearted read for story time, but maybe one to read with a slightly older child whose parent is sometimes away, but who will always make it home to them.
Hyndman's beautiful illustrations are in mostly grays, blue, greens, browns, and of course that splash of red. She is especially adept at showing the motion and drama of each scene. Notes at the front about this particular type of robin, and about the migration habits of robins in general, are worth reading beforehand.
If you want to give this as a gift, pair it with a bird feeder and seed for your local avian friends, and perhaps a guide book to help identify them.