Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? By Rita Gray, illustrated by Kenard Pak; HMH Books for Young Readers, 32 pages, ages 4-8.
Bird books are wonderful reasons to employ onomatopoeia, and Rita
Gray's latest foray in nonfiction joyfully employs this device. Written
in rhyming call and response format, the story is at once active and
calm, asking readers to step back and listen to the distinctive and
musical sounds of neighboring nesting birds. Dreamworks artist Kenard
Pak debuts as a book illustrator with lovely watercolors and digital
media. Double page spreads of crows taking flight and robins sitting on
their eggs evoke the soft, first-blush colors of spring. A mock
interview with a mother bird ("A Word with the Bird")
explains nesting bird behavior as well as best practices for human-avian
Mama Built a Little Nest, by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Steve Jenkins; Beach Lane Books, 40 pages, ages 4-7.
Veteran nature writer Jennifer Ward (I Love Dirt!) teams up with Caldecott Honoree Steven Jenkins (What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?) to
showcase the different ways birds build nests using all sorts of tufted
materials. Each spread features a different bird with a read-aloud
rhyme on the left page, and supporting information for grownups and older
readers on the right page. Jenkins' masterful collages of woodpeckers,
weaverbirds and wrens are large, bright and inviting. The author's notes
elaborate on the architectural ingenuity of nest building and also
include resources for further backyard birdwatching.
Nest, by Jorey Hurley; Simon & Schuster, $16.99, 40 pages, ages 0-5.
Debut children's book author and illustrator Jorey Hurley has crafted a lovely seasonal book about the life cycle of a robin while also explaining in the simplest of terms how birds raise families. Starting in spring, two robins build a nest, lay an egg, and the family grows alongside blooming leaves and blades of grass. Hurley's illustrations are sharp visual feasts, rendered entirely in Photoshop yet looking very much like paper collage. Most illustrations are double spreads with one word defining the action. Like many great children's books nowadays, this one includes author's notes where robin nesting and incubation habits are explored in greater detail for adult readers.