dashing back and forth -
first with twigs and grasses to make the nest cup,
then with wisps of tiny feathers
to make a soft, cozy lining
that will keep their eggs safe and warm."
This is a beautifully illustrated book of poetry that will take the reader on a visit to the natural world through each distinct and lovely season. We know Nicola Davies as a gifted nonfiction writer who shares her impeccable research in such books as Talk, Talk, Squawk!, Bat Loves the Night, Just Ducks, Extreme Animals and Dolphin Baby. Now, we can appreciate her talents as a poet who looks closely at her world and lets us in on what she sees. Both author and illustrator share a love of the outdoors and that is evident on every page in this over-sized, lush collection.
Children will recognize the stars of the show on page after page...familiar animals and birds, typical settings, favorite outdoor activities. Mark Hearld uses a multimedia approach to create the gorgeous and numerous spreads. He combines collage with watercolor, ink and crayon to give colorful life to each of the beautifully worded verses. The range in tone and style adds great enjoyment and inspires repeated returns to the poems shared. The scenes are clear and often written with a minimum of text:
The garden has been busy,
Growing squash, beans and eggplants,
tomatoes, carrots, peas.
The tiny seeds planted in the spring
have used the sun and rain and soil to make all this!
And now it's time for harvest -
picking and pulling,
washing and chopping,
cooking, bottling, and freezing,
so that deep in winter there'll be
summer food to eat!"
Readers and listeners are encouraged to get out into nature and do some exploring:
"Things to Do in Your Den
1. Sit and think.
2. Notice things, like the smell of the earth and what beetles are doing.
3. Get very close to birds and animals. You can see them, but they can't see you.
4. Have adventures - your den can be anything you want it to be.
There are over 50 poems here, fabulous artwork, even some recipes and advice for anyone interested in taking the learning further that this lovely book already allows. So much to ponder, and to admire and to draw you back for another look.
I will leave you with my favorite...at least for today!
"In the treetops, in the bushes,
there are new songs and colors.
The little birds are back!
They've flown so far!
Over forests, mountains, deserts, seas -
such a long, long way to get back to us.
Yet here they are,
bright and alive, fluttering, singing,
ready for spring."