Spring is very gradually stealing over the Twin Cities. My beautiful, brave bloodroot is always first to show off its gorgeous white petals above the fall leaf litter. So welcome! I’m loving all the birdsong I hear on my walks, as well. Here are two attractive, fascinating books about their clever nests and diverse feathers.
Mama Built a Little Nest, by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Steve Jenkins
published in 2014 by Beach Lane Books
Have you ever seen a hummingbird nest? So unbelievably tiny, they are. Hummingbirds use spiderwebs to build them, which makes them just stretchy enough to expand as the teeny babies grow.
Grebes are waterbirds. They build nests of twigs that float on the water like tiny islands, and anchor them to water plants.
So many different kinds of nests suit Earth’s amazing variety of birds. Jennifer Ward tells us about 14 of them. Her pleasant four-line poems introduce each nest, and a brief, interesting explanation follows. Just right for ages 3 or 4 and older.
Steve Jenkins’ award-winning paper collages fill the pages with brilliant colors and textures. The birds themselves and their unusual nests completely dominate the page, with the text unobtrusively tucked in.
A terrific book to increase our sense of wonder and curiosity and delight.
Feathers: Not Just for Flying, by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen
published in 2014 by Charlesbridge
Often the first thing we notice about a bird are its feathers — brilliant red cardinals, checkered downy woodpeckers, tuxedoed penguins.
Feathers have many jobs to do, and Melissa Stewart deftly, succinctly explains quite a few of them here. Feathers warm and cushion, shade and clean, hide or attract attention, and much more.
Each job is showcased with an example of one bird, and likened to something in our human sphere which does the same job. The heron’s wings which block out the sun are like an umbrella. Rosy-faced lovebirds use their feathers to carry building materials like a forklift.
Soft, watercolor illustrations laid out in the form of a scrapbook and some lovely handlettering give this book a gentle, natural quality. The minimal text makes it very child-friendly. No overdose of information here, even for a preschooler.
This is how informational books should look and function for young children. Now, get them outdoors to start seeing and hearing and appreciating birds in their own neighborhoods and travels.