Time to Fly (George Ella Lyon)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Time to Fly, written by George Ella Lyon and illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman, a classic story of learning to spread one’s wings.

Upon realizing that its siblings have left the nest, a young robin wonders where they’ve gone. “They took off, said my mother. You’ve outgrown this woven home.” And though Mother Robin does everything she can to convince her fledgling that the time has come to spreads its own wings, the young bird remains unconvinced of the importance of mastering flight; “Nest is best,” it insists. How will Mother Robin prove to her little one that, while the next step may be scary, it can be wonderfully empowering as well?

Sweet. Baby bird leaving the nest as a metaphor for growing up isn’t a particularly groundbreaking framework for a story, but Lyon’s cheerful, rhythmic text and Coleman’s charming illustrations combine to create an enjoyable interpretation of the trope, especially for young readers who may be leaving the safety of their own nests very soon to start school. Still, some of the story’s elements become confusing within the context of this metaphor, such as the idea that the young robin’s nest will not be a place of safety forever due to hawks (in contrast to a child’s own home typically portrayed as a constant of security). Otherwise, the length is fine for a storytime, JJ liked the interplay between the mother and baby bird, and this was overall an enjoyable read. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Whose Nest is Best?: A Lift-the-Flap Book (Heidi E. Y. Stemple)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Whose Nest is Best?: A Lift-the-Flap Book, written by Heidi E. Y. Stemple and illustrated by Gareth Lucas, a fun and interactive board book for beginner birdwatchers.

Of all the birds in the air and on the ground, who builds the best of nests? Is it the hummingbird’s tiny nest of dried grass and spiderweb threads? Or an oriole’s soft but strong nest that hangs instead of balancing? Is it the packed-mud nesting colonies of the swallows? Or a penguin Daddy simply resting his egg on his feet? There are lots of possibilities, but the truth is plain: whichever nest was built for the baby bird inside is the perfect nest for them!

Adorable! This cute little peek inside different types of common bird species’ nests, many of which can be found in the majority of backyards, parks, or local woodland areas, is both entertaining and educational. Stemple’s jolly rhymes and Lucas’s colorful quasi-geometric art combine nicely for a read that bird lovers of any age will enjoy. I wish a little clarification had been given on the nests featured that were built with human assistance (bluebirds and ospreys), and the design of the bluebird and robin are similar enough that the species can be easily confused, but these are minor quibbles. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ really enjoyed it, especially the interactive element. Overall, a lovely board book for young animal lovers, and we recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Common Backyard Birds (Doris Dumrauf)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Common Backyard Birds by Doris Dumrauf, a kid-friendly guidebook to some of the most common North American birds.

Everyone loves looking at the birds in their neighborhood, but not everyone knows how to identify our little feathered friends. Featuring original nature photography the the author and first-person introductions from the birds themselves, Dumrauf introduces little bookworms to twenty of the most-spotted North American species, from the American Robin to the Carolina Chickadee to the Red-bellied Woodpecker. Young birdwatchers can learn about what each species eats, see their specialized features, and get an idea of their personalities and preferences.

Very cool! This indie title is a surprisingly robust look at common “backyard” birds, as well as tips for attracting those species to one’s own yard. The book is not particularly eye-catching design-wise; while Dumrauf is a skilled nature photographer, young readers will likely not be engaged by the bland monochrome backgrounds and large blocks of text. The text itself, however, is very entertaining, as Dumrauf manages to imbue personality into each species of bird while imparting interesting factoids in an entertaining and approachable way. I do wish that more urban species had been featured – such as house sparrows or rock pigeons – which might draw in kiddos who live outside of suburban and rural areas with more immediately recognizable species. Otherwise, the length was best for older elementary students, and JJ really enjoyed looking at the pictures and learning about the birds (perfect timing for us – she just got her own bird-feeder). Overall, this one is a fantastic way to introduce the world of aves to burgeoning birdwatchers, and we recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Harriet’s Ruffled Feathers: The Woman Who Saved Millions of Birds (Joy McCullough)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Harriet’s Ruffled Feathers: The Woman Who Saved Millions of Birds, written by Joy McCullough and illustrated by Romina Galotta, the tale of a unique avian activist.

Harriet Lawrence Hemenway, a young socialite in 1890’s Boston, was a fan of lovely hats. She, like many other women of the time, was particularly drawn to those that featured the colorful plumage of birds. However, after reading a news article that detailed the millions of birds that died to make such hats, Harriet is shocked. Along with her cousin Minna, Harriet begins a social movement to boycott the use of feathers in fashion, eventually leading her to establish the Massachusetts Audubon Society.

Disappointing. While I’m all for a tale of early feminism and animal-rights activism, this one just never seems to find its balance between a heartfelt tale of fighting for social change and a comedy absolutely littered with bird-related puns. These puns undercut Harriet’s passion for birds’ rights, as do the lack of emphasis on any struggles she may have faced to raise awareness and change laws. With little to no adversity, the story reads very much as “rich, upperclass woman picks up a cause on a whim, decides to change things, then does without issue,” which was very much not the case. This is not helped by the noticeable lack of diversity in crowd and party scenes, which feature only one or two token characters of color throughout and very little diversity beyond that. Galotta’s avian illustrations are quite beautiful, and her characters are expressive, though her command of period fashions is the true standout (yet, a bit to the book’s disadvantage – the artwork almost glories in the loveliness of the feathered hats and fashions). The length is fine for a storytime, and JJ enjoyed the bird artwork, but overall this one just sort of fell flat with us. Not our cup of tea.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Lali’s Feather (Farhana Zia)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Lali’s Feather, written by Farhana Zia and illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman, a delightful story of ingenuity and friendship.

Lali is playing in the field one day when she finds a feather. Wishing to return it to its owner, she asks Rooster, Crow, and Peacock if they are missing it. They all say no, pointing out the feather’s plainness (as opposed to Peacock’s fancy feathers) and pokeyness (as opposed to Crow’s perky feathers), and so on. So Lali decides to keep her feather to play with. Her friends Hen, Duck, Jay laugh at the little feather, but as Lali finds more and more ways to creatively play with the feather, all six of the birds become more excited and invested. Then, when a gust of wind blows the feather out of Lali’s grasp, she is left broken-hearted. Fortunately, her feathered friends are there, and eager to bring her feather back.

Wonderfully unique. Various themes are explored in this one (different species of birds, imaginative play, not judging by appearances, etc.), all weaving together to create a story that is rich with substance yet light and fun to read. Particularly enjoyable is Lali’s creative mind, which can find a hundred uses for a plain, small, pokey feather, such as tickling, sweeping, writing, and more. It shows little readers that any ordinary object can be a toy, and the very best games are often the ones we create ourselves. The illustrations are gorgeous, creating a lush country home setting and memorable characters. Lali’s Indian culture is flawlessly woven throughout, from her bindi and clothing to the Indian slang used in the dialogue (translations are not provided, yet easy to guess from context). The length is perfect, and JJ adored the colors and characters. A marvelously enjoyable tale, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)