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Monday, April 18, 2016

You Nest Here With Me, written by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple, with illustrations by Melissa Sweet. Boyds Mills Press, Publshers Group Canada. 2015. $21.99 ages 3 and up

"Pigeons nest on concrete ledges,
Catbirds nest in greening hedges,
Tiny wrens, in shoreline sedges.
You nest here with me."

We all want lovely language and a peaceful pause when the sun sets and little ones settle in for another night of needed rest after a day filled with activity and learning. What better way to spend your time than with a shared storybook?

So, Mama settles down to share a rhyming story about the ways that birds find rest when night falls
and their days are done. The rhymes speak of the places these birds can be found - a swallow on a barn door, a plover at the seashore, owls in an oak tree. The rhythm of the quiet words provide just the comfort that little listeners love to hear as they drift off to dreamland.

While they are basking in the warmth of a story, they are also learning about the avian wonders that Ms. Yolen and her daughter Heidi include as they write of the homes that birds build. The authors add a note in end matter to give details concerning diet, locations and the markings that help young bird watchers identify the 14 birds named. Some will be instantly recognizable; others not as familiar to a wide audience.

Melissa Sweet uses watercolor, gouache and mixed media to match the comforting mood of every line, showing birds and their habitats in cool shades of blue and green. To accompany these back matter notes the illustrator adds a bird silhouette, a drawing of one feather from each, and a close up look at the eggs that might be found in their various 'homes'. '' A close look will offer up fascinating details and inspire discussion. I am forever in awe of Ms. Sweet's artwork.

What a terrific way to get little ones looking more closely at the world and in particular, at the birds they might see when they step outside their back doors the next morning ... after a long and restful night, that is!

Just as mama birds want what is best for their babies, the mama in this fine tale whispers a quiet reassurance to her sleeping child:

"So till you're big as big can be ...
You'll rest right here
in our house
with me."

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