D’Aquino, Andrea. She Heard the Birds: The Story of Florence Merriam Bailey Pioneering Nature Activist. Princeton, Architectural Press, 2021. Unpaged. 978-1-648-96050-5. $18.95. Grades 1-3.
This picture book biography is the story of a woman who made a difference. Florence Merriam Bailey grew up in the late 19th century with her family who loved nature. Her mother was an astronomer and her father took the family on a summer long camping trip where she loved to observe the forest animals. Florence’s favorite creatures were birds and she studied their behavior and songs. She strongly disliked the latest fashion in hats, which were adorned with feathers and even the actual carcasses of birds. Bailey and her classmates at Smith College initiated a successful boycott of these hats. Florence became an avid ornithologist and promoted watching birds in a natural setting with binoculars in contrast to scientists who studied them in laboratories. She was the author of a field guide and other books on birds and their methods of communication. The author’s full bleed illustrations are done using hand-painted collage, oil pastel and pencil. Readers will enjoy examining the many colorful birds that are depicted.
THOUGHTS: This book is a great choice for elementary collections. It could be used during Women’s History Month, Earth Day or in science units. Children will learn about the wonder and beauty of our feathered friends and may be inspired to do some birdwatching on their own.
921 Biography Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member 598.2 Birds
Fernihough, Jo. The Crow and the Peacock. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2021. 978-0-802-85568-8. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-3.
Crow is living a perfectly happy life until he encounters a dove in the forest one day. Her beautiful, bright feathers and soft cooing cause him to question his dark feathers and loud “caw caw.” Suddenly, his self-confidence dwindles. In talking to the dove, however, he discovers that the dove actually envies the nightingale, whose singing is even more magnificent. The nightingale, in turn, envies the rooster, whose call is so famous it is heard across the land. As the crow travels from bird to bird, he discovers that they all want something another bird has. Ultimately, he meets a caged peacock, who only wishes to fly free like a crow. It is then that the crow realizes how good he has it and that the only thing that could possibly make him happier is sharing his joy with others. A thought-provoking tale complete with lively, colorful illustrations, this book would be an excellent read aloud selection.
THOUGHTS: This book would be a great introduction to self-esteem/confidence building activities. After hearing the story, young listeners could reflect on their own special traits and characteristics. Perhaps they could even share with their peers the attributes they like most about each other. The book might also prompt discussions about jealousy and the problem with comparing oneself to others. This is definitely a must-have for those looking to build social and emotional learning collections.
Whipple, Annette. Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls. Reycraft Books, 2020. 978-1-478-86962-7. 32 p. $17.95. Grades 1-3.
Children and adults have long been fascinated with owls. Likely many of our students have read a fictional story featuring an owl or heard the hoot of an owl while camping, hiking, or just relaxing in their backyard. In Whooo Knew?, readers have the opportunity to learn more about these amazing creatures. Information about owl characteristics, life cycle, and habitat are introduced by the author posing a question (for example: “Can Owls Spin Their Heads?”, “What Good Are Ear Tufts?”, and “What Do Owl Babies Do?”). Each question is answered in an informational two page spread featuring numerous photographs. The title also includes a section on what readers can do to help owls, and backmatter includes a glossary, instructions on dissecting an owl pellet, and illustrations of owl anatomy.
THOUGHTS: This engaging non-fiction title is sure to be a hit with students, who will find it useful for research as well as casual reading. The structure of the book, with each topic introduced by catchy questions, will catch the attention of readers and the numerous photos of owl species and close-up views of owl characteristics will allow readers to appreciate these amazing animals. Recommended.
Animals Back From the Brink. Crabtree Publishing, 2020. $14.30 ea. $290.50 set of 14. 32p. Grades 3-6.
Bringing Back the American Alligator. 978-1-549-08040-1. Bringing Back the Black-Footed Ferret. 978-1-725-44237-5. Bringing Back the Blue Iguana. 978-1-725-48072-8. Bringing Back the California Condor. 978-1-725-48073-5. Bringing Back the Giant Panda. 978-1-549-08041-8. Bringing Back the Gray Wolf. 978-1-549-08042-5. Bringing Back the Grizzly Bear. 978-1-549-08043-2. Bringing Back the Humpback Whale. 978-1-549-08044-9. Bringing Back the Island Fox. 978-1-725-48074-2. Bringing Back the Lesser Long-Nosed Bat. 978-1-725-44238-2. Bringing Back the Mountain Gorilla. 978-1-725-44239-9. Bringing Back the Snow Leopard. 978-1-725-44240-5. Bringing Back the Southern White Rhino. 978-1-725-48075-9. Bringing Back the Whooping Crane. 978-1-549-08045-6.
Readers will discover endangered species around the world. Each book begins with facts about the featured species including its habitat and an introduction to the dangerous factors contributing to extinction. Each book explains the scientific criteria that is used to figure out the levels of threat to each species, the historical and current threat to each species, and the problems environmental groups have had trying to protect them. Each book concludes with an explanation of future protection efforts and what the reader can do to help. The “Learning More” section of each book provides books and websites for the reader to learn more about the specific species featured.
THOUGHTS: A good supplement to an existing collection of endangered species books and for libraries with patrons interested in this topic.
Cole, Henry. Nesting. Katherine Tegen Books, 2020. 978-0-062-88592-0. 32 p. $17.99. Grades K-3.
From the branches of an apple tree, a male robin calls out to his mate on an early spring morning. After scoping out the perfect spot, the pair gather twigs and grasses, building a nest in the crook of the tree. The mother robin settles in quietly, and soon, four smooth, blue eggs appear. One week later, the eggs hatch, and the parents begin gathering food for their defenseless babies. The young family weathers a spring storm, as well as an unwelcome snake visitor, before the baby birds flap their small wings and leave the nest for the first time. As spring gives way to summer, then autumn, the family fills up on berries to tide them over during the approaching winter. Snow covers the nest, and the world is quiet, waiting for spring to return, along with the robin’s first call. The story unfolds through simple, straightforward text as well as a brief author’s note sharing additional information about robins. The illustrations are the stars of the story. Cole uses Micron pens and acrylic paints to create beautifully detailed crosshatch illustrations that perfectly capture both the depth and the simplicity found in the natural world.
THOUGHTS: Students who love nature, and especially bird-watching, will gravitate towards this book. It will also be a nice tie-in for primary grade teachers who discuss the changing seasons, since readers can follow the robin family throughout the year. Pair with Mark Teague’s Fly or Denise Fleming’s This is the Nest that Robin Built with a Little Help from Her Friends for a robin-themed story time.
Picture Book Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD
Raschka, Chris. In the City. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2020. 978-1-481-48627-9. 40 p. $17.99. Grades K-2.
In The City is a rhyming picture book that focuses on friendship using pigeons to illustrate that point. The book follows pigeons as they go through a city, landing on statues and flying overhead, and the narrator points out the different ways that pigeons form friendships and relates that to the people. The illustrations are beautiful in ink and watercolor which add to the story as readers follow the pigeons and people through making their friends.
THOUGHTS: This is a wonderful addition to any elementary school collection and highly recommended!
Picture Book Mary Hyson, Lehigh Valley Regional Charter Academy
The Superhero Animals series explores the connection between animals and their comic/movie namesakes. Readers will learn about the history and characteristics of the comic superheroes as well as their namesakes in the animal kingdom. They will learn how animal characteristics were incorporated into the comic book characters. In Black Panthers, for example, readers learn how black panthers are intelligent creatures, known for their ability to stealthily track their prey. They are also known for their speedy running ability. The comic Black Panther (aka King T’Challa) is known for his wisdom, strength and speed, among other characteristics. Clearly the comic book creators drew inspiration from wild panthers in creating this superhero. Each title features photos of the animal in the wild as well as illustrations of the comic characters, including still photos from recent film adaptations of the comics. Back matter includes a glossary of terms and links to online resources.
THOUGHTS: This series is an unique combination of comic book history and animal facts. As such, it holds appeal for both fans of the many recent superhero comic film adaptations as well as animal fans. A worthwhile additional purchase.
This delightful work of poetry pays tribute to those birds that stay behind and face the harsh winter. Each two page spread focuses on a different bird. The text is written in assorted rhyming patterns and includes the calls that each species makes. The work begins in autumn with a blue jay foraging for nuts and a wren looking for a home. As the snow begins to fall, snow geese and snow buntings are seen flying amidst the snowflakes. As winter deepens and darkens, a great gray owl chases its prey while a ruffed grouse burrows into its snowy home. A woodpecker searching for insects, and blue jays preparing a nest signal the arrival of spring. The back matter contains more information about each of the seventeen featured birds and how they adapt to a wintry climate. The beautiful full bleed illustrations by Desmond are done in assorted media and deftly add atmosphere to the text. One can almost feel a chill when reading about the “shaking quaking” chickadee’s struggles to stay warm and the snowy owl’s venture into the black frozen night.
THOUGHTS: This poetic work is a great introduction to winter birds for primary students and is perfect for a winter themed story time. This is a first purchase for elementary collections.
811.54 Poetry Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member
Lali is a young girl living in India who finds a feather on the ground. She asks a number of birds if this feather belongs to them. A rooster, crow, peacock, and other birds deny that the plain feather is theirs. Lali then shows that the feather is useful and uses it to write, sweep, and even to tickle her father’s feet. Then, the feather catches the wind and blows away and the distraught Lali runs after it. With the help of her bird friends, the feather is retrieved and the next day, Lali finds a button. The digitally created illustrations by Stephanie Fizer Coleman are colorful and engaging. The artist gives a hint of the Indian landscape and culture in the drawings.
THOUGHTS: This story is a good read aloud and could be a discussion starter for ideas about what Lali will do next with the button. A supplemental purchase for elementary collections.
Burleigh, Robert. Tiny Bird: A Hummingbird’s Amazing Journey. Christy Ottaviano Books: Henry Holt and Company. 2020. 978-1-627-79369-8. $18.99. Grades K-4.
Behold, a tiny bird, no bigger than a quarter. This tiny bird takes its last drink at an orange flower, manages to bite one last bug, before it begins it’s difficult journey to it’s winter home. The bird faces many obstacles: hawks, storms, and anything in between. Some hummingbirds never complete the journey, including the 24 hour flight across the raging sea. Will this tiny bird make it to it’s winter home? We hope so!
THOUGHTS: This book is filled with tons of information about hummingbirds. In addition to the great information provided, the book is illustrated with beautiful colors, showing the beauty of nature and this tiny bird.