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Monday, January 28, 2019

Fly With Me: A Celebration of Birds Through Pictures, Poems and Stories. By Jane Yolen, Heidi E.Y. Stemple, Adam Stemple and Jason Stemple. National Geographic for Kids, Penguin Random House, 2018. $33.99 all ages

"That Bird Song

That bird song,
the one stitched together
with phrases as sharp,
as honed, as swift
as a pulse of air.

One moment there,
Then gone into memory.
Until the next bird sings
that song.  (Jane Yolen)"

I have pored over this book every day since it arrived in the mail. I know little about birds, and am always keen to know more. Who better to learn it from that a family of bird lovers, always inspired by their beloved husband and father? If you have read Owl Moon, you will know Heide's story. Her father took her birding when she was very young, and inspired her to always want to know more. He inspired the rest of his family as well, as shown in their dedication:

"For David W. Stemple - Dov, Daddy, Dad, Papa, Pa - who
always showed up for the birds and taught us all to do the same. This book is for you."

They are a family of birders; their love emanates from every page. The endpapers begin our journey. Familiar sayings about birds find pride of place, soaring above a flock of blue silhouetted birds in flight. The table of contents provides all readers need to know to lead to what piques interest and inspires fascination. There is a brief introduction, followed by 12 sections: sections that describe birds themselves, an ancient history of birds and birds in history, state birds, listening to and looking at birds, how birds move and what we can do to save them ... the list goes on.

It is a gorgeous book. You will find yourself returning to it often to read just one more entry. You might be interested to know the records that specific birds hold: largest, smallest, fastest wingbeat, slowest flying, smallest nest or largest one. Or you might be surprised to know how birds have found a place in the arts: print, music, ballet, poetry, even movies! A birdathon is suggested, and ways for readers to become citizen scientists ... a lasting consequence for all they have learned while sharing it.

Back matter is plentiful. An author's note from each contributor is followed by acknowledgements, websites, online sites for joining others in a bid to protect and save the world's birds, a selected bibliography, a list of credits, the scientific name for each bird in the order of presentation, an index, and an extensive list of photo credits.

Have you got a bird-loving friend, are you looking for a gift for your child's classroom, or just interested in knowing more about birds yourself? This is a wonderful purchase.

Evident is the love, and the talent of this birding family!

"Bird Party

Invitations sent,
the feeders filled,
millet stocked,
and bread's been spilled.

The guests arrive
without delay,
robins, wrens,
one noisy jay.

In the grass
and on the deck,
doves mill around,
while finches peck.

The crows' attempted
party crashing -
met with vigilant
thrashers thrashing.

Chit, chit, chit, chit
It's a backyard bird
           -Heide E.Y. Stemple

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