Thursday, March 20, 2014
Have You Heard the Nesting Bird, written by Rita Gray and illustrated by Kenard Pak. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Thomas Allen & Son. 2014. $19.99 ages 3 and up
cheer - cheer - cheer -
purdy - purdy - purdy
Chickadee is an acrobat.
chick - a - dee - dee
Catbird sounds like a hungry cat.
As they wander through the meadow near their home and wonder at the bird songs they hear, two children have a question about the nesting bird they encounter:
"But have you heard the nesting bird?
"What bird? Where?"
"That robin, nesting up there."
Rita Gray allows her readers to 'hear' the calls of twelve common and familiar birds: mourning dove, woodpecker, starling, sparrow, swallow, crow, cardinal, chickadee, cowbird, blue jay, whip-poor-will, wood thrush. Despite being able to see the robin, there is no sound coming from its nest.
It isn't until there are sounds of tapping and cracking that the two finally hear the bird call they have been waiting to hear. Both male and female robins are pretty excited to welcome three tiny babies!
Then, and only then, is their song heard far and wide.
There are many new books this spring season about the birds that so interest little ones...and me, too. I often find myself sitting in the spring warmth (if it ever really arrives this year) of the back porch listening to bird calls and wondering what bird might be making them. If I can't figure it out, I don't worry. I just enjoy the lovely and welcome sounds (but for the loud and raucous crows that are sure to make a return engagement anytime soon) as one bird sings to another.
The accuracy of the written bird calls is remarkable. I went to my trusty book of bird song to compare the two. I am impressed. The text is simple and repetitive which will encourage early readers to try their hand at independent reading. The gentle beauty of the meadow and the expressive nature of the avian singers are captured in a soft palette of greens, grays and browns. The artwork deftly matches the quiet observations that the children make, and the unfailing care of the robins.
In "A Word with the Bird" at the conclusion of the story's text, a series of questions are asked of the mother robin. She answers with clarity, providing details about her silence and her vigil as she hatches a new batch of young. She also talks about her mate's role in rearing their new family.