3 New Picture Books That Are Just Birdy

Bird Builds a Nest by Martin Jenkins

Bird Builds a Nest by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Richard Jones (9780763693466)

This picture book cunningly incorporates ideas about the science of forces into an appealing story about a bird building her nest. As a new day begins, Bird first finds something to eat and tries to pull a big worm out of the ground. Eventually, she settles for a smaller and less strong worm for her meal. As Bird begins to work on her nest, she gathers twigs. Some are too heavy, others she can carry one or two of and still smaller ones she can carry three or four twigs. She pushes and pulls the twigs into place. Then she gathers lighter and softer things to line her nest for the eggs that are about to arrive.

The concepts of pushing and pulling, dropping and lifting, heavy and light are very nicely portrayed in this picture book. The story reads aloud well and is a great introduction to the concepts as well as a good book to share. The illustrations are bold and bright, so they will work well when shared with a group. A nice one to share in the spring, this picture book intelligently uses science to tell a story. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from library copy.)

This Is the Nest That Robin Built by Denise Fleming

This Is the Nest That Robin Built by Denise Fleming (9781481430838)

This picture book offers a riff on the “House That Jack Built” story by featuring a robin builiding a nest with help from a variety of other animals. Squirrel trims the twigs, dog provides the string, horse shares his straw and so on. Eventually the nest is built and lined with soft items and then the eggs are laid. The story continues all the way through hatching and ends as the little robins are taking their first flight.

The traditional structure of the story works well here and Fleming offers just the right rhythm to make the book a pleasure to read aloud. As always, Fleming’s art is approachable and wonderfully textured and organic. Her use of layered collage is bright and friendly. A joy to share, this picture book is just right for spring. (Reviewed from copy provided by Beach Lane Books.)

Warbler Wave by April Pulley Sayre

Warbler Wave by April Pulley Sayre with Jeff Sayre (9781481448291)

This book is an invitation to wonder at warblers, tiny colorful songbirds that migrate long distances each year. They must stop on their way to eat and rest, searching for insects and spiders to devour. They come in many colors from blue to yellow to reds and mixtures of colors. Then they return to their journey north to their nesting grounds, flying by night and calling to one another along the way.

Sayre is a master at creating nature books that soar with poetry, drawing young readers into the wonder that is the world around us by tantalizing them and showing them the magic. The images shared here are crisp and bright, the skies deep with color, the small birds caught with a clarity that is difficult to achieve. A great introduction to warblers and birding for young readers. Appropriate for ages 4-6. (Reviewed from copy provided by Beach Lane.)

3 Wintry Picture Books

Two of these picture book welcome winter while another sends it on its way:

Spring for Sophie by Yael Werber

Spring for Sophie by Yael Werber, illustrated by Jen Hill (9781481451345)

Sophie is waiting for spring to come, but she’s not sure how to tell when it arrives. Her mother explains that she should be able to hear the changes, so Sophie is patient and listens while she is outside. Eventually she starts to hear more and more birds in the trees. Still, it was snowy outside. Her father explains that she can use her feet to feel spring coming. So Sophie paid attention to how soft the snow was and eventually, it was less icy and more soft. Still, the snow was there. Her mother tells her to use her eyes and nose. Sophie watches the snow melt, the green return and one day her nose tells her that spring has finally arrived! This picture book celebrates the change of season in a tangible way that children will love. The focus is on the child experiencing the changes themselves with gentle guidance from loving adults. The illustrations celebrate both winter and spring, the slow but steady transformation between seasons. A perfect book to invite exploring outside. Appropriate for ages 3-6. (Reviewed from library copy.)

William_s Winter Nap by Linda Ashman

William’s Winter Nap by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Chuck Groenink (9781484722824)

This rhyming picture book tells a story of a boy who is ready for bed. But just as he is about to fall asleep, there comes a tap, tap, tap at his window. It’s a chipmunk and William invites him into his bed to sleep. Again and again, William is about to fall asleep but another animal needs shelter from the cold and the snow. When the last animal knocks, the other animals insist that there isn’t any more room, but somehow they find room for the very large bear with a little help from William. The series of drowsy moments interrupted makes this a great bedtime tale but also a lovely one to share with a group. The illustrations are friendly and inviting, just like William himself. There are opportunities for counting, naming animals and thinking about napping yourself in this very appealing read. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from copy provided by Disney Hyperion.)

Winter Dance by Marion Dane Bauer

Winter Dance by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Richard Jones

Fox wakes up to snowflakes falling and wonders what he should be doing to prepare for winter. A caterpillar suggests that he wrap up in a chrysalis and wake in the spring while the bat thinks a cave would be best. Turtle heads to the bottom of the pond to sleep in the mud and squirrel quickly gathers food. The geese fly south and the snowshoe hare turns white like the snow. Bear falls asleep in a log. But none of those solutions is right for Fox! He finally meets another fox in the woods who knows just what to do. Beautifully written by Bauer, this book uses repetitive structures to evoke a timeless feel that will be welcoming for the youngest listeners. The illustrations by Jones have a lovely softness to them while also showing the changing season and the beauty of the natural setting. A great pick for celebrating the coming winter. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Wake Up! by Helen Frost

Wake Up by Helen Frost

Wake Up! by Helen Frost, photographs by Rick Lieder (9780763681494, Amazon)

This is the fourth collaboration of poet Helen Frost and photographer Rick Lieder. Once again, there is a focus on nature and its wonder. In this book, spring is the subject with new eggs, newly hatched animals, and babies galore. Frost’s poetry is simple and skillful, filled with rhymes and rhythm that carry the book forward inviting investigation. Lieder’s photography is wonderful, capturing that same love of the wild.

Frost’s poetry is particularly deft. She invites readers to explore the outside world, look up into the sky and the trees. She looks below the water and at seeds on the breeze. The photography follows these invitations, capturing eggs, tadpoles and baby deer in their natural habitat. The book ends with more in-depth information on the animals featured in the images.

Another delightful success by this pair, this picture book deserves a place in every library to help celebrate spring. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

Argyle Fox by Marie Letourneau

Argyle Fox by Marie Letourneau

Argyle Fox by Marie Letourneau (9781939100092)

On a blustery spring day, Argyle wants to head outside and play. However, nothing works quite right due to the pesky wind gusts. He tries building a card tower and a gust blows it down. He tries creating a spider web of yarn and gets all tied in knots. He tries more robust games like pretending to be a knight or a pirate and each game is ruined by the wind. Argyle returns home sadly. His mother encourages him to keep on thinking about how he can successfully play outside in the wind. With lots of thought and even more work, Argyle comes up with a great solution perfect for a windy day.

Letourneau has created a picture book that celebrates the joy of playing outside even on a windy day. She shows the power of imagination as Argyle tries game after game. Then with some inspiration from his mother, Argyle himself solves the problem and finds a solution. The hard work he puts in is a critical part of the story as is his irrepressible spirit throughout.

The illustrations are very appealing. They have a delicacy to them that allows for small details that become ever more important as the story goes on. It isn’t until Argyle is in his room with all of the things he has used in his play earlier in the book that readers will suddenly see what the solution is. The clever art offers plenty of clues for children to be inspired before Argyle himself.

Perfect reading for springtime, this book invites children outdoors even on the windiest days, just make sure you have the right toy too! Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley received from NetGalley and Tanglewood.

We’re Going on an Egg Hunt by Laura Hughes

were-going-on-an-egg-hunt-by-laura-hughes

We’re Going on an Egg Hunt by Laura Hughes (9781681193144)

This lift-the-flap picture book is a riff on the beloved We’re Going on a Bear Hunt reworked with an Easter theme. Here a family of rabbits head out to find eggs on a lovely spring day. There are ten hidden eggs on the pages and not every flap has an egg hidden behind it. Along the way, the rabbits encounter a series of obstacles and how to navigate things like lambs, bees and ducks. The final very large egg hides a wolf and the rabbits and the reader have to work together to foil him.

Hughes has done a nice job of incorporating the rhythm and structure of the original book into this springy Easter version. Even the obstacles themselves have a springtime theme. The wolf at the end makes for a delightful twist that creates the joy of rushing back through the obstacles in reverse order and returning home just in the nick of time.

The use of flaps is particularly enjoyable when combined with an egg hunt. Children will enjoy lifting the flaps which are fairly sturdy and should survive small hands well. There are surprises underneath some of them and the chance to count upwards to ten as well.

Great for sharing with a small group of children or one-on-one, there will be lots of demand to be the one to lift the flaps because it is such fun. My guess is you will be reading this one again and again. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Bloomsbury.

Hello Spring! by Shelley Rotner

hello-spring-by-shelley-rotner

Hello Spring! by Shelley Rotner (9780823437528)

Released February 28, 2017.

Filled with bright and buoyant photographs, this picture book celebrates the arrival of spring. It moves from early spring filled with snowdrops emerging from the snow and the running of maple sap all the way through to the beginning of summer. In between, the book looks at flowers, bees, pollination, early garden crops, animals and much more. Even worms and snakes appear on the pages as the sunshine warms.

Rotner’s text is simple and straight forward. She writes with embedded rhymes, giving the text a wonderful poetic twist particularly when shared aloud. In other sections, she uses rhythm and repeating sentence structure to carry the celebratory tone forward and engage the reader.

Her photographs are equally compelling. Filled with light and the greens and blues of spring, they shine on the page. She has included children in many of the images, interacting with animals and plants. Throughout the book there is attention to diversity of the people on the page.

This is a spring fling of a book, worthy of being taken on a picnic or cuddled with on a rainy spring day. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Holiday House.

When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes

When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes

When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek (InfoSoup)

So I admit that I waited for spring to actually come to Wisconsin before I reviewed this and that means that even now I am being optimistic that it has finally arrived even though it was in the 30s here overnight. But even if you are almost headed into summer, this is a great book to share in early, mid and late spring. Written at a level just right for toddlers, this book shares the transformation that spring bring us. Bare trees become covered in blossoms and leaves. Snowmen disappear. Puddles appear. Grass turns from brown to green (with flowers). Gardens grow and soon there is green everywhere, breezes, robins and worms.

Henkes’ writing is made to share aloud with small children. His verse doesn’t rhyme but it has a great natural rhythm to it that makes the book almost sing. The joy here is in the exploration of the changing season, one that brings a certain beauty with it, a freshness. Henkes captures the turning of the season, the aspects of early spring all the way through to almost-summer and he does it in a way that shows small children what they can see and experience themselves.

Dronzek’s illustrations are big and bright and simple. She moves from the lighter colors of early spring through to the bold robustness of near summer. The images change too, moving from small images surrounded by white to double-page spreads that run right to the edge of the pages and seem to spill over with the bounty of late spring.

A gorgeous book for the smallest of children, this is a triumphant toddler look at spring. Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins Publishers.

 

Abracadabra, It’s Spring by Anne Sibley O’Brien

Abracadabra Its Spring by Anne Sibley OBrien

Abracadabra, It’s Spring by Anne Sibley O’Brien, illustrated by Susan Gal (InfoSoup)

Through a series of large flaps, this picture book demonstrates the transformation from late winter into spring. From the very first page, snow melts away to show bare ground as rabbits watch in wonder. Green shoots become crocuses. Bare branches burst into soft pussy willows. Birds fly, nests are built, eggs hatch. Even children change their clothes and head outside into the warm day. This is a magical way to introduce small children to the wonder of seasonal change.

The gatefold flaps in this book are sturdily built and are the size of the full page, thus less likely to rip and tear. The entire book focuses on magical words, each one leading to opening the flap and revealing an amazing transformation as spring arrives. The effect works really well with the poetic wording of the book also adding to the wonder on the page. The rhyming is done well and the vocabulary while child friendly will also allow some growth for small children.

The illustrations by Gal have a gorgeous natural feel to them. They were done with charcoal and digital collage which keeps the roughness of the paper and charcoal and adds the feeling of watercolor or other paints. It’s very effective and captures the ethereal nature of spring as it passes.

Bright and engaging, this picture book will be a great pick for springtime story times. Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Finding Spring by Carin Berger

finding spring

Finding Spring by Carin Berger

Maurice is a little bear cub who can’t stop thinking about spring. It may be time for him to go to sleep in the warm cave with his mother, but he stays awake and sneaks out of the cave to search for signs of spring. As he heads through the forest, he meets other animals all busily preparing for the winter. They don’t have time to talk to him for long but find time to warn him that spring’s arrival will take some time. Maurice smells something new on the air and runs towards it, thinking it is spring. When a snowflake falls, he is sure it is spring arriving so he scoops up some snow to keep spring with him and heads back to his mother to sleep. When he awakes in the warmer weather though, his piece of spring has disappeared. But in the end, Maurice manages to find spring all around him.

This picture book has a very simple story with elements that children will relate to. From not wanting to go to bed to the beauty of nature, this book celebrates it all. It is a book of curiosity, adventures and making your own discoveries along the way.

What makes this book exceptional are the illustrations. Berger works in cut paper and collage, creating dioramas that have dimension and shadows. The cut paper contains fragments of words and lovely textures. I particularly love the reverse side of a letter on gray paper being the flowing water in a stream. Throughout the book there are touches like this that work beautifully visually and are artistically inspired.

A lovely new springtime read, this picture book celebrates the seasons of winter and spring side by side. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Greenwillow Books.