BOOKS

Baby Wren and the Great Gift

illus. by Jen Corace. 32p. HarperCollins/Zonderkidz. Apr. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780310733898.
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PreS-Gr 1—This gentle read-aloud proves that everyone has a special gift to share as a baby wren leaves her nest to explore the world. Venturing out into the beautiful canyon, a kingfisher invites the wren to go fishing, ring-tailed cats ask her to join them in cartwheels, sunfish call to splash in the river, and eagles ask her to soar high above the storm clouds. But the baby wren cannot dive, do cartwheels, swim, or soar, compelling her to predictably ask why she cannot do these things. Lloyd-Jones's lyrical text follows a comfortable pattern of wren's unanswered question to each of her new friends ("Why aren't I a sunfish…so I could swim and splash, too?) always followed by the refrain "But no one answered./Monarchs played in the milkweed./A breeze rustled in the switch grass./And the glittering river ran on." Corace's fine-lined and brightly colored drawings show the scenic details of the wren's surroundings and the spectacular sunset as she discovers the magnificent call deep in her chest. Finding her special gift, the wren fills the canyon with a birdsong of thanks for all to hear.
VERDICT Lovely and lyrical, this is a comforting story to be shared at storytime, bedtime, or anytime children are looking for reassurance of their special gifts.

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