Woodpecker calls from a tree, "cuk-cuk-cuk." Starling sings, "whistle-ee-wee." But have you heard the nesting bird?
In this book, we hear all the different bird calls in counterpoint to the pervasive quiet of a mama bird waiting for her eggs to hatch. Fun and informative back matter takes the shape of an interview so that readers learn more right from the bird's bill. Ken Pak's lively illustrations, paired with Rita Gray's words, render a visual and sonorous picture book to be enjoyed by young naturalists.
Layering delicate leaves and branches in green-browns, gold-greens, and touches of scarlet, newcomer Pak gives Gray's (One Big Rain) story about nesting robins a quiet, measured dynamism. The restraint of the artwork dovetails nicely with the story's themes: caretaking, which is what the nesting robin is doing, and observation, which is what a human boy and girl are doing. The two talk about the birds they see, some of which are voicing their characteristic calls ("Sparrow makes a simple jingle./ chiddik, chiddik/ Swallow slides from under a shingle./ ha-ha-chit-chit-chit"). One bird, though, is mysteriously silent. " Not a single tweet or trill.'/ This nesting bird is so still!' " The secret to the robin's long stay on her nest is revealed as a dialogue between the sounds coming from the nest ("Tapping Cracking") and the children's observations ("The bird is starting to move around!"). It's a fine first book about watching living beings in the wild, and it also serves as a beginning birders' guide, identifying the features and cries of common backyard birds. Ages 4 8. Author's agent: Fiona Kenshole, Transatlantic Literary Agency.