Counting Crows…and Robins, Jays, and Chickadees

Bird Count_interior-7
Copyright 2019 Susan Richmond and Stephanie Coleman. Reproduced with permission from Peachtree.

Bird Count, by Susan Edwards Richmond, illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman, Peachtree Publishers; $17.95, ages 4-8. October 2019.

Fall birdwatching is more challenging now that mating season is over–the bright plumage of some birds gives way to more muted tones–but scouting them out is excellent preparation for the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. In Susan Edward Richmond’s first children’s book, Bird Count, Ava, whose name is Latin for “like a bird,” is tasked with recording and identifying birds for the wintertime roundup.

Bird Count_interior-10
Copyright 2019 Susan Richmond and Stephanie Coleman. Reproduced with permission from Peachtree.

A bird can only be counted if at least two people confirm hearing or seeing it, so Ava must pay close attention with her eyes and ears. The singsongy text flies with ease from one page to the next, while young readers can keep abreast of Ava’s bird tally in the page margins. Stephanie Coleman’s deft illustrations of mallards, mergansers, and merlins prove the adage that practice makes perfect: last year she challenged herself to paint one bird a day for 100 days. (See the entire flock here.)

A joyous introduction to birdwatching while also fostering a love of the outdoors, Bird Count will delight fledgling ornithologists as well as wise old owls.

 

Pretty Birds

Check out this pair of sweet bird books that will have your little chicks peeping with joy:

 

Jump, Little Wood Ducks, by Marion Dane Bauer, photographs by Stan Tekila, Adventure Publications; $14.95, 32 pages, ages 1-4. 

Wood ducks are perfectly named because they nest in the holes of trees. Though safe from certain predators, freshly hatched ducklings can’t fly yet, and getting out of the nest requires a real leap of faith, since some nests can be thirty feet high. Newbery Honor winner Marion Dane Bauer’s latest children’s book imagines the conversation between a mother wood duck and her anxious chicks as they survey their first real challenge. Nature photographer Stan Tekiela’s high-resolution images of wood ducklings are highly entertaining and encourage in-depth examination.

blue

Blue Penguin, by Petr Horacek, Candlewick Press; 15.99, 32 pages, ages 1-6. 

Petr Horacek has built a career sketching adorable parrots, geese, puffins, and other creatures to great acclaim–the Washington Post even called him “the thinking tot’s Eric Carle” back in 2006 when Silly Suzy Goose first appeared. Here, Blue Penguin feels just like a regular penguin, but the other birds don’t think he belongs and exclude him. Blue Penguin spends his days alone, singing a beautiful melody, until one day a small penguin asks Blue Penguin to teach him the song. Day by day, the duo become friends, and Horacek’s lovely ode to friendship and inclusion is a reminder that what unites us is more than skin-deep.

9780763692513.int.1
BLUE PENGUIN. Copyright 2015 by Petr Horacek. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.

 

 

I Am Henry Finch

literarykids:

I am Henry Finch, by Alexis Deacon, illustrations by Viviane Schwarz; Candlewick Press, $16.99, 40 pages, ages 3-6.

Henry Finch knows he’s destined for greatness, but until now, all he’s done in life is flutter from tree to tree, outwitting the hungry beast who prowls below. One day Henry has enough of the lubmering creature eating his friends, and realizes this is his chance to be great. Well, Henry ends up in the belly of the beast, but what he does there is a charming ode to courage and resilience. Author Alexis Deacon (llustrator of Russell Hoban’s Soonchild) confirms with wit and humor that heroes can appear from the least likely of places. The birds are rendered as red thumbprints and stick figure illustration (courtesy of There Are Cats In This Book author-illustrator Viviane Schwarz), a reminder that we are all unique and capable of soaring high.

@Candlewick #TBThursday goes to the birds.

I am Henry Finch, by Alexis Deacon, illustrations by Viviane Schwarz; Candlewick Press, $16.99, 40 pages, ages 3-6.

Henry Finch knows he’s destined for greatness, but until now, all he’s done in life is flutter from tree to tree, outwitting the hungry beast who prowls below. One day Henry has enough of the lubmering creature eating his friends, and realizes this is his chance to be great. Well, Henry ends up in the belly of the beast, but what he does there is a charming ode to courage and resilience. Author Alexis Deacon (llustrator of Russell Hoban’s Soonchild) confirms with wit and humor that heroes can appear from the least likely of places. The birds are rendered as red thumbprints and stick figure illustration (courtesy of There Are Cats In This Book author-illustrator Viviane Schwarz), a reminder that we are all unique and capable of soaring high.

Sweep Up the Sun, by Helen Frost, photographs by Rick Lieder; Candlewick Press, 32 pages, $15.99, all ages. (Published March 10)

Haven’t we all had that dream where we’re flying with the birds? Live out those fantasies while reading award-winning author Helen Frost’s lyrical invitation to soar alongside feathered friends in Sweep Up the Sun. At its most basic level, the poem is exploring birds in flight, but it is also a rally for cooped-up children to return outdoors, to spread their wings, and take off for unexpected adventures. Stunning, in-flight photographs of Chickadees, Cardinals, White-Breasted Nuthatches are courtesy of Rick Lieder, who previously collaborated with Frost on Step Gently Out. An informative glossary (with information gleaned from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology) provides distinctive characteristics, migration patterns and feeding habits of the eleven birds featured in the book. Consider this volume a lovely introduction to backyard birding, an invitation to observe these beautiful creatures often perched just outside our windows.

NEST images ©2014 Jorey Hurley. Reproduced with permission from Simon & Schuster

Nest, by Jorey Hurley; Simon & Schuster, $16.99, 40 pages, ages 0-5.

Debut children’s book author and illustrator JoreyHurley has crafted a lovely book about the life cycle of a robin, while incorporating a look at the seasons and raising a family. 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.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST  images © 2014 Steve Jenkins. Reproduced with permission from Beach Lane Books 

Mama Built a Little Nest, by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Steve Jenkins; Beach Lane Books, $16.99, 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, 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 avian exploration.