Apr 28, 2018

Finally SPRING! Time for Robins and Nests

I've been bemoaning our wintery weather throughout April, including in this recent post. So  this post is a combined celebration of sunshine, sixty-degree days, and two fantastic picture books about birds. 
Clarion Books, 2017
Resilient robins made their way north right on schedule, only to struggle-stagger under the prolonged snow, ice, wind, and winter. I almost felt guilty at my gratitude for their arrival, at my spirits rising when they trilled their morning songs. 
I've had to renew my library copy of ROBINS! How They Grow Up by Eileen Christelow because it felt unfair to write or share a post about them until the weather matched the calendar. Now that the sun is streaming through my open window and birdsong signals nesting season is well underway, I'm eager to recommend these amazing books, beginning with this full disclaimer: I'm a bird-lover, bird-caregiver, and robin-fan.
This oversized, richly illustrated picture book offers readers entertainment while providing excellent scientific information. Charming revelations of the hidden life of robins come across through the appealing first-person dialogue between a pair of juvenile robins, nest-mates who directly address readers from the corners of each spread. The life cycle of robins in general is explored through their specific family story, allowing readers to empathize with and admire the complexity of robins' survival and the adaptability of a species. 
As author and illustrator of this winning offering, Christelow has captured specific anatomical, developmental, habitat, and behavioral traits that I observed many times while working as a licensed wildlife rehabilitator some years ago. Her intense research and observation are evident in her depiction of the energetic nestlings, fledglings, and juveniles as well as pair and flock patterns and predatory threats. Even the onomatopoetic sounds are accurate. I urge you to get this book, explore (and enjoy) it thoroughly, including the accessible back matter, then head out into our overdue spring and see what I mean. Christelow nailed it, and I couldn't be more grateful to her for doing so.
Beach Lane Books, 2014

Experiencing this book will invite further reading of bird books. Before rushing to a field guide, though, check out MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST, written by Jennifer Ward and Illustrated by Steve JenkinsThis appealing picture book combines rhyming verses, parallel informative text, and "awww"-inspiring illustrations that convey specific details and reveal a broader concept about the what, how, and why of nests. Steve Jenkins has perfected the ability to illustrate nature/animals with scientific accuracy while capturing the remarkable individuality of a single creature. There are many ways in which this book serves as mentor text: conveying factual content in verse;  extending information in concise text; organizing of the overall content in relation to each component; and drawing satisfying conclusions within nonfiction text. 
As the school year winds down, books like these can be the salvation on a long, over-warm school day.
Head to a library or bookstore for these two picture books, share them with your kids at home or in classrooms, then move your new-found knowledge and interest outdoors for field observations, notes, and writing. 

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