March 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Birds of a Feather | New Titles to Welcome Those Harbingers of Spring

For winter-weary residents of the Northeast, the arrival of migrant birds is a welcome harbinger of warm weather. Over the past six months many of these small creatures have flown vast distances to milder climes—only to return when spring arrived in our area. Add these titles to your collection and share them with your students to celebrate our feathered friends’ homecoming.

In Harriet Ziefert’s Robin, Where Are You? (Blue Apple, 2012; K-Gr 2), a girl and her grandfather set off with their binoculars in hand to find a robin. After identifying numerous common (nuthatches, blue jays, a yellow warbler, and Canada geese) and harder-to spot birds (towhee, wood thrush, Eastern Screech-owl) in the park, they finally spy a small nest with three blue eggs. Their patience pays off as they quietly observe the robins hatching. Noah Woods’s lively artwork and lift-the-flap format that reveals bird names, habitats, calls, and behavior, make this book an engaging selection, especially in preparation for a trip to the park.

Lucky Ducklings (Moore)
©2013 by Nancy Carpenter

Eva Moore’s Lucky Ducklings (Scholastic, 2013; PreS-Gr-2) features spring hatchlings born near a pond in a park. As they follow their mother across a parking lot, the five tiny balls of fluff fall through the slats of a storm drain. Fortunately, a witness’s quick call to the fire department sends a capable crew to the distressed Mama duck’s aid.

Moore’s story and Nancy Carpenter’s naturalistic drawings, in charcoal and digital media, are an homage to Robert McClosky’s classic Make Way for Ducklings, and is perfectly suited to this true-life rescue.

Annette LeBlanc Cate’s Look Up!: Birdwatching in Your Own Backyard (Candlewick, 2013; Gr 2-5) encourages youngsters to spend time observing wildlife, listening closely, and drawing in a sketchbook to help them see the world in a whole new way. Expensive binoculars are not required, nor do you have to be an expert on birds or at drawing. Through pages chock-full of ink and watercolor cartoons and amusing dialogue-balloon commentary from the winged creatures, the author  introduces the various types of birds and discusses their distinctive traits, habits, and habitats. She offers some practical do’s and don’ts and suggests ways to feel more connected to the natural world and be at home in it.

On a more global scale, Sandra Markle’s The Long, Long Journey: The Godwit’s Amazing Migration (Millbrook, 2013; Gr 2-5) tells the story of a female bar-tailed godwit from the moment she hatches during the Alaska summer until the late fall when she and her siblings make their way to their new home in New Zealand. Mia Posada’s textured watercolor and collage artwork help to convey the drama and dangers of the intrepid flyers’ journey of 7,270 miles, the longest nonstop bird migration ever recorded.

After introducing youngsters to the books above, bring out Francesco Pittau & Bernadette Gervais’s bold, beautiful Birds of a Feather (Chronicle, 2012; K- Gr 4). Children discovering the amazing diversity of the avian world will be thrilled with this oversize, interactive title that offers an array of the world’s most colorful and interesting birds, via flaps featuring a rainbow of feathers, life-size eggs, intriguing silhouettes, and fascinating facts about the creatures it highlights. A trailer offers a peek into this handsomely designed book.

No matter where you live, there’s something in these books to capture the attention and interest of children. Hopefully, they will inspire further reading or at least a walk in the park, perhaps with a sketchbook in hand. Happy Spring!


Lucky Ducklings (Moore)
©2013 by Nancy Carpenter
Curriculum Connections

This article was featured in our free Curriculum Connections enewsletter.
Subscribe today to have more articles like this delivered to you every month.

Luann Toth About Luann Toth

Luann Toth ( is Managing Editor of SLJ Reviews. A public librarian by training, she has been reviewing books for a quarter of a century and continues to be fascinated by the constantly evolving, ever-expanding world of publishing.