As a rather lazy alligator, Bob comes up with a great plan to get birds to fly right up to his mouth. He opens a birdseed restaurant on his nose. After seasoning his birdseed with his favorite spices, so the birds would taste delicious, news soon spread about his restaurant among the bird community. Soon a small town grew around Chez Bob. Bob wanted to support the community, so he coached the bird basketball team and joined a book club. When a large storm came, Bob offered all of the birds shelter in his mouth. This was his perfect opportunity to eat them all! But he could hear them laughing and talking together and then looked around the empty town. He knew what he had to do.
Shea’s books are always a delight. This one contains just enough adult level humor that parents will enjoy reading it to their children multiple times. Just the book club page alone had me guffawing aloud, and there are lots of moments like that. While Bob may start out as a villain, I agree with him that hero isn’t too strong a word by the end of the story. There is great delight in watching Bob decide what he should do, all for the community good that he accidentally created.
Shea’s illustrations are large and bold, full of bright colors. They feature all sorts of little birds who come to Bob’s community and to Chez Bob too. Bob’s own scheming face is a delight as he plots to eat the birds. By the end though, the scheming grin turns into a genuine smile.
A delicious and sharp-toothed book about the transformation of a villain. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
Grandfather loved to birdwatch. Milo was a quiet child and he listened to Grandfather’s information on birds and what his Grandfather loved most about them. Grandfather liked many birds like the hawks and kestrels, but his favorite was the soaring bald eagle. Grandfather loved the sharp sight of the birds and all they could see from high above. One day, Milo and Grandfather rescued a chickadee that hit the window, releasing it into the air when it had recovered. As Grandfather lost his eyesight, he could still enjoy the birds at the trees since Milo and his nurse could help him identify them. When Grandfather died, it was Milo who called everyone outside to see the eagle that soared high and then circled down low near them with a flash of his eyes.
Told in the voice of Milo’s older sister, this picture book is a look at an aging grandparent and his eventual death. The book offers connectivity to Grandfather through his love of birds, sharing that love with one child in particular who was willing to listen and to see for him. Newbery-Medalist MacLachlan has crafted this story with kindness and gentleness, offering a sibling view that loves both Milo and Grandfather, a voice that marvels at the chickadee release and at the eagle coming so low.
Sheban’s illustrations are done in watercolor, pastel and graphite. They have such depth and texture, the colors extraordinarily layered and light-filled. They share the wonder of birds in flight, the beauty of the farm landscape and the quiet connections of the family.
A quiet and profound look at life, love, birds and death. Appropriate for ages 4-7.
One day, Mel decided that it was going to be the day that she learned to fly. Mama was away and her siblings were doubtful, but Mel didn’t let that stop her. So she stepped to the end of the branch, flipped and fell, down and down. The squirrels further down the trunk tried to catch her but they missed. The bees reached her, but barely slowed her down. The spider used all eight of her hands, but Mel still fell. Until she dove into the water. There she caught a fish and flipped, heading back up again. She flew up and up, back past the spider, the bees, the squirrels and many others who had worried for her fall. She flew!
Tabor has created a picture book full of drama that centers on a little bird who has a lot of self-confidence. Even as she terrifies everyone by falling down so far, she keeps a smile on her beak, blissfully falling with her eyes closed until just before she hits the water. That sudden drop into water creates almost a splash of water in the face of the reader, since it’s so surprising. The triumphant return to her family high above is joyful and celebrated by all those around her.
The art is marvelously simple, the trunk of the tree staying steady as Mel falls past. The various creatures who either try to help or watch in shock create lots of humor along the way. I particularly enjoyed the very slow snail offering to help but far too slowly. The shift to having the fish Mel caught falling down after she is back home adds to the giggles.
A joyous and triumphant look at trying something for the first time. Appropriate for ages 3-6.
One day when out on a snowy walk, a little girl and her abuela found an injured bird. They brought it home and took care of it. As it healed, they kept it in a cage and also let it fly around their living room. The bird was just as fantastic as everything else is at Abuela’s house. When the bird was better, they released it out the window. It flew off over the city until they couldn’t see it any longer. Winter turned to spring. The little bird returned to their balcony. The little girl wanted to keep it, but instead they decided that the bird could visit them whenever it liked.
Told in simple sentences, this picture book is beautifully quiet and thoughtful. Readers will enjoy the discovery of the bird and the care that the pair take with getting it better. There is sadness as the bird has to be set free and then a joy when it returns. Without being heavy handed, this picture book explores how we can help nature without needing to own it or change it.
The illustrations capture the warmth of Abuela’s home and the rich connection she has with her granddaughter. The two spend lots of time together, reading and gardening, just being with one another on the pages.
Quiet and simple. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy provided by Abrams Books for Young Readers.
I Am a Bird by Hope Lim, illustrated by Hyewon Yum (9781536208917)
Every morning a little girl flies like a bird on the back of her father’s bicycle. She sings like a bird too with a “Ca-Caw!” of delight. Along the way, they wave at the people they pass who smile and wave back. Then one morning, the little girl glimpses a person hurrying through the streets with a large bag. The woman doesn’t wave or smile at all. They see her the next day too, and the little girl doesn’t wave or smile at her this time. What could the woman be doing? Where is she headed in such a hurry day after day? The little girl becomes scared of the woman, since she acts so strangely. But then one day, they discover what the woman has been doing. She has been feeding the birds with a “Chee-chee-chee” quietly whispered to them. Now the little girl is a bird once more.
Lim delicately offers a tale about assumptions that we all make about those around us. Assumptions that can quickly grow to dislike, even though we don’t know the person at all. Told in the first person by the little girl, she explores the confusion and fear caused by a woman rushing past without smiling or waving. The reaction is believable for a small child and also speaks to how humans in general react to those who are different from us.
The art is done in merry colors in colored pencils and gouache. The little girl and her father are particularly bright on the page with their sunny yellow, bright blue and bright red colors. The neighborhood they live in is also part of the story with its seaside, graffiti and close buildings.
A picture book about community and connection. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
The grandson and grandpa from Usher’s Seasons series return with the first in a new series. One of the birds outside was sick, so the boy and his Granddad made a cozy bed for it and read a book of bird facts. After having some water, the little bird was feeling better and they put him back outside. Now it was time for breakfast and they made pancakes together. The bird returned for a breakfast of berries. At lunch, they built triple-decker sandwiches and the bird returned again. They took him back outside to help him find his friends. At tea time, the bird returned again and they did some more research. Now it was time for them to help the little bird return to the tree he needed, so they set off to reach the top of the mountain. Happily, the bird’s many friends were there to greet him and shared their midnight feast with the humans too.
Usher blends the mundane and the imaginative into a seamless story that glides from the normal happening of finding a sick bird and steadily becomes something magical and wondrous. I loved Usher’s first book series and am so pleased to see him return with another series with these charming characters, the boy with big ideas, the grandfather who grounds him and the magic that takes over both their lives at times. The writing is simple and lovely. The focus on meals here is a treat that will have readers wanting to make their own pancakes, triple-deckers and tea.
The art is a delightful mix of smaller illustrations on white backgrounds and full-page illustrations that show the garden at Granddad’s house. There is an endearing quality to the images that show the beautiful relationship of the grandfather and grandson.
A joy to see beloved characters return. Make sure to have tea and snacks on hand when you share this one. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Highly stylized, this picture book focuses on Pablo, a baby bird who is ready to leave the egg. But Pablo is going to do it in his own unique way. After a breakfast of croissant and hot chocolate, he gathers his strength. He is too big for his egg now, so he must break out. First, he creates one hole, just the right size for his eye. He looks all around and then creates a second eye hole so he can really see out. He pecks two holes, one on each side of the shell so that he can hear what is happening around him. Then one hole for his beak so he can smell soil and flowers. The sixth and seventh holes are for his legs so he can wander. Then holes eight and nine are just right for his wings to come out. Pablo is entirely free of the shell, but he saves a piece just in case.
Visually arresting, this Belgian picture book features a pure black egg on a white background. Subtle shading and clouds move past, but the focus and each page center around Pablo himself as he steadily frees himself from the egg shell. The book steadily counts the number of holes that Pablo makes and is marvelously absurd has he continues far longer than most readers might think, staying in the shell and creating holes.
The art is simple and very funny. Perhaps most delightful is the final reveal of Pablo freed from the black egg, looking nothing like what one might have expected.
For the toddler, preschooler or parent who appreciates a bit of the surreal. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Energetic and silly, this graphic novel throws together an unlikely trio of new friends in the first book in a new series. The story begins with Pea, who longs to be the one in the garden who is able to roll the farthest. When he is taunted by a rude Strawberry and Cherry, he agrees to try to roll all the way to the tree with the red leaves on the other side of the fence. Unfortunately, just as he leaves the farm, a storm hits and he is tumbled along with the water. He bumps into a bee, who warns him of the dangers outside the farm, particularly the dangerous birds. That’s when they meet Jay, who returns Bee’s satchel to her and then forlornly walks away. When Jay reveals that he can’t fly because he fell from the nest and was never taught how, he joins their group. Now they must get Pea back home before his mother worries about him. But there are more dangers lurking in the bushes (literally!)
Smith has created a madcap race of a book. Filled with all sorts of puns about peas and bees, the book’s writing is pure silliness. After all, what can one expect from a book who entire title is a pun and likely the inspiration for the characters. However it was conceived, this is a book that children will adore. It’s truly funny, filled with friends and has plenty of action too.
The art is clear and comical. From a bee with glasses to a bird who walks to a pea who bounds across the pages. The pacing is brisk, helped by the snappy dialogue and the wildly fast moments of the story. The art works well, moving just as fast as a pea can roll.
About much more than the birds and the bees, you have to give peas a chance. Appropriate for ages 7-10.
This preschool-friendly picture book explores the basics of bird watching. There are many ways to find a bird, such as offering seeds. Sometimes you may need to blend in, such as near a pond. Being very quiet is also key. Birds aren’t just flying in the sky, they are also down on the ground foraging. Birds also eat, swim and wade in the water. Sometimes it can take having good eyes to detect a hidden bird. And of course, looking up at telephone wires and trees is a good idea too. Putting up feeders and bird houses helps and lets you watch birds right from your window. But the best way of all to find a bird is to close your eyes and listen for their song.
Told in the simple language, this picture book invites readers to enter nature and look for birds. With various birds on the pages, the book offers examples of different birds and their habitats. The text is encouraging, showing readers how easy it is to find birds all around them and become a bird watcher themselves. The author’s note at the end of the book offers more tips for bird watching, encouraging using a field guide and creating your own list of birds you have spotted. It also mentions becoming a Citizen Scientist and helping with bird counts.
The illustrations are key in this book, showing various birds on the pages nicely labeled. The images are bold and colorful, filled at times with a myriad of birds and other times with birds the reader must spot. The pictures invite conversation and discovery.
A merry introduction to birds and bird watching just right for preschoolers. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Beach Lane Books.