About 1963 or so I read a children's picture book about a large bird, shaped something like a turkey, that acquired the colors of the flowers it ate, and so was able to camouflage itself successfully in the palace gardens. The gardeners were driven to distraction by the depredations of this bird, but always walked right by it as it hid.

Eventually, if I remember right, they cut down all the flowers to deprive it of camouflage, and found the very sad and now colorless bird. At this point everyone realized what an ornament they had lost, and the bird was welcomed back in a renewed garden, more resplendent than ever and no longer forced to hide.

I would like to see this book again, as the watercolor(?) illustrations were memorable.

1 Answer 1


The book is Phillip the Flower-Eating Phoenix, by John Todaro and B. Ellen, published by Abelard Schuman in 1961. The colorful illustrations seem to be made of paper cutouts like those Matisse used. I found it by Googling for "flower-eating bird" kirkus, which gained me a brief Kirkus review published September 15, 1961. Armed with the title and name of illustrator, it was not difficult to locate recognizable images. Oxfam

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.