Sunday, October 26, 2014


MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST captures the intricacies of "avian architecture." The book contains 15 two-page-spreads, each describing a different kind of bird next. The lefthand page is a four rhyming verse, e.g.
Daddy built a little next--
Now don't gross out-- with spit 
Who would have thought that spit would make
the perfect place to sit?
The right hand page includes one or two sentences about the bird:
The swiftlet makes an edible nest using tube-shaped saliva, which hardens in the air. Swiftlet nests are used in bird's nest soup, a Chinese delicacy
In the author's note, Jennifer Ward explains:
Birds are skilled, inventive, and adaptable builders. Nest design may be minimal (as with a scrape) or mind-boggling intricate (as with a woven). Sizes may be tiny (hummingbird) or huge (eagle). Birds design burrow, cavity, and mound  nests. They sew and craft woven, dome, and hanging nests. They produce nests that float, defy gravity, expand, are camouflaged, and that heat and cool.
Primary grade students are going to fall in love with this book. At the same time, I'm thinking it will be perfect for the animal adaptations unit our fifth graders are starting in early November. And an added bonus- collage illustrations are by one of my all-time favorite picture book artists, Steve Jenkins. 

Melissa Stewart's FEATHERS: NOT JUST FOR FLYING is another terrific new book about animal adaptations. In this picture book, Stewart describes the many different ways that birds use feathers. Two purposes are paired, then compared with common objects in a large font at the top of the page,  then a more detailed paragraph, in a smaller font, gives additional information.
"Feathers can shade out sun like an umbrella… As a hungry tri-colored heron wades through the water in search of food, it raises its wings high over its head. The feathers block out reflections from the sky and shade the water. This makes it easier to spot tasty fish and frogs. 
 Or protect like sunscreen"
On sunny summer afternoons red-tailed hawks spend hours soaring through the sky in search of prey Their thick feathers protect their delicate skin from the sun's harmful rays.
Sarah Brannen's watercolor illustrations are intricate and perfect, and yet feel simple enough that they could provide a great mentor text for any child interested in creating a nature journal.

Great for a lesson on birds, animal adaptations, metaphor, or capturing information on illustrations! Or just plain reading and enjoying!

1 comment:

Linda B said...

I've read both, Carol. They are gorgeous, informative, just lovely. Glad you like them, too!