Archive for June 28, 2012


bird talk

Bird Talk: What Birds Are Saying and Why by Lita Judge

Incredible displays of feathers, bright-colors and complex songs are all ways that birds communicate and try to find a mate.  Some birds puff and strut, others have large wattles, and still others drum on a branch with a stick.  Once birds have found that mate, they communicate their pairing to others using dances, clattering bills, or by providing food for one another.  When eggs and baby birds arrive, the parents use flashing wing colors, trickery or pretending to be wounded to lead predators away from their young.  The parents teach their babies to eat, fly and more with clucks, demonstrations, and plenty of talk.  Celebrate the birds that live around your house as well as exotic birds that have amazing ways of communicating.

Judge has written a very detailed but also very readable book about birds.  It has a wide range of species that are all intriguing in the way they communicate with one another.  This makes the book engaging and great fun to read.  At the end of the book are even more facts about the birds, that share their habitat and range.   Judge’s illustrations have a wonderful playfulness to them, but also display the beauty of the birds with accuracy and skill. 

A great pick for children’s nonfiction collections, this is an inviting book about wildlife that will give new and intriguing information to young nature lovers.  Appropriate for ages 8-10.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.

path of stars

A Path of Stars by Anne Sibley O’Brien

Dara has a close relationship with her grandmother, Lok Yeay, who tells her stories about life in Cambodia when she and her brother were growing up.  She remembers Cambodia as a place of beauty, filled with moon and star light.  Lok Yeay also shared her darker memories of the soldiers coming and hiding in the jungle until they could make their way to Thailand.  But when the phone call came and Lok Yeay found out that her brother had died, she stopped telling stories.  In fact, she stopped getting out of bed entirely and stopped eating.  The entire family was worried.  Dara went to the garden and picked a rose and a ripe tomato.  Then she put them on a tray along with a photograph of Lok Yeay’s brother and went into the darkness of her grandmother’s room.  They shared the tomato and prayed for her brother, and Dara shared a story of the future and going back to visit Cambodia.

Commissioned by the Maine Humanities Council, this book reflects the story of a family that survived the Killing Fields in Cambodia and came to Maine afterwards.  According to her author’s note, O’Brien did extensive research not only about Cambodia’s history but also about its culture and environment.  As a reader, it is clear that she took Cambodia into her heart and showed its beauty.  O’Brien focuses on the intergenerational relationships in the family, demonstrating the importance of the grandparent in the Cambodian culture.  Additionally, the book is about war, families torn apart, and grieving. 

The art in the book is done in oil paints and oil crayon.  It has a wonderful jewel-tone and great depth and richness.  The illustrations focus on the family relationship, none of them showing the atrocities of war at all. 

This is a strong picture book that looks at the Cambodian Americans and the violent history that they fled from.  Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Charlesbridge.

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