Flying into print and landing on the shelves in 2014 are books for children about birds, titles as varied as the bird species themselves.
The simply stated “Nest” (Simon and Schuster 2014) by Jorey Hurley incorporates a straightforward text and uncomplicated illustrations – no embellishment required to tell the story of this family of American Robins. Only one word on each page highlights the tale, depicted by the author/illustrator in captivating watercolors, of a year in the life of a robin family. Comfortably simple in concept to read to the very young, enticing to the older reader due to the intriguing story line.
Perhaps this next story will lead to some family investigation into the study of birds. “Feathers Not Just for Flying”(Charlesbridge 2014) by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen details the extraordinary attributes of the feathers of 16 different birds from all over the world. Camouflage, protection from the sun, warmth in the cold – feathers serve many purposes. Brannen’s life-sized watercolor illustrations enforce the lessons. In the author’s note, Stewart writes about her variety of research sources, sharing a valuable lesson for young naturalists.
There are more than wings in the make-up of a bird. Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual (Clarion Books 2014) by Kate Samworth suggests that perhaps the reader would like to create their own bird. A look into the future, the book’s cover claims the catalog has been “Renewing the World’s Bird Supply Since 2031″ when it appears there is a decline in birds species due to the destruction of their habitats. Wildly fun and imaginative, readers choose their birds’ parts from options of feathers, body types, beaks, legs and feet and their flight patterns and songs. A mixed medium of illustrations in oil, ink, graphite and colored pencil are amusing and thought provoking and remind the reader that birds are most astonishing creatures.
For budding environmentalists and storytellers The Dandelion’s Tale (Schwartz and Wade Books, a division of Random House 2014) by Kevin Sheehan and illustrated by Rob Dunlavey is an account of a sparrow who befriends a dandelion, one who wishes to be remembered by sharing the story of her love of all of nature’s charms that surround her. After a storm the sparrow is disappointed to find that the dandelion has gone, but returns later to find just how prolific her wild plant friend has been as the field (just like my own lawn) is covered with more dandelions. The sparrow shares her friend’s story to her dandelion friend’s progeny. Dunlavey’s illustrations in ink, watercolor, colored pencil and crayon are gentle and restrained in the warm, but muted, colors depicting this subtle story.
These new offerings for children’s book collections celebrate our feathered friends – books on the wing for young minds to soar.
Laurie Collins is the Children’s Librarian in Ipswich, MA. She is author of “The Pajamas of My Dreams” and is a Mass Literacy Champion.