On Bird Hill by Jane Yolen

On Bird Hill by Jane Yolen

On Bird Hill by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Bon Marstall (InfoSoup)

A child goes walking on Bird Hill with their dog, along a shoreline and down paths. On Bird Hill there is a tree that shines with both dark and light. On the trunk is a limb with a twig. On that twig is a nest with a bird on it. Under the bird is an egg and then the chick begins to hatch. The chick hatches and stretches and looks down from the tree, sees everything around him, even the child walking away.

This is the first picture book by Yolen for a new series with Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It plays with the traditional cumulative nursery rhyme style, creating a story that builds and builds. The language is simple while the concept is complicated. It’s a story that insists upon the reader looking closely and seeing beyond the basics to what lies underneath. The book is also circular and spiraling, showing the interplay between humans and nature as one and the same. There is a real playfulness about it and also a deep seriousness that provides a dynamic tension in the book.

The illustrations are wild and whimsical. The world is similar to ours but also so different, filled with green grass, circular ponds, unique trees and interesting birds. They have an almost folksy quality to them that merges with modernism too. They depict nature’s connection to our own lives, particularly in the scene where the shell the chick has hatched from shows the house the child lives in.

A master author has created a poem that dances and lifts which is accompanied by illustrations that surprise and delight. Appropriate for ages 2-5.

Reviewed from library copy.