Three Picture Books for the Birds

Best in Snow by April Pulley SayreCindy: More snow. It’s for the birds, but at least it’s given me the opportunity to sneak in another snowy book as we look toward spring. Best in Snow (2017), by April Pulley Sayre, contains stunning photos of snowflakes and icicles. Various other forms of snow—from crusty to slushy—show the cycles of changing winter weather. Birds flock to feeders or rest on branches protected from the cold, drifting flakes by their layers of feathers. This is a gorgeous, informative book for classroom seasons and weather units, storytime, or individual enjoyment.

Birds Make Nests by Michael GarlandOnce the snow melts, we’ll start seeing birds making nests, and Michael Garland has a beautiful new book, Birds Make Nests (2017), that showcases a variety of nest styles. A Great Horned Owl nests in a hole in a tree, while flamingos sit on mound-shaped nests on the ground. A Great Crested Flycatcher is seen with a snakeskin hanging out of her nest to discourage predators. The simple text is attractively illustrated with woodcut and digital art suited to the very youngest birders.

Lynn: Coming home today through our late snow, I saw a group of more than 20 robins hopping rather glumly around our yard. Having just read Eileen Christelow’s charming new book, Robins: How They Grow Up (2017), I knew that this group of early arrivals were males in search of nesting places. Did you know hatchlings leave the nest around 15 days, after which the male feeds and watches over them because the female is already getting ready for a new family?

Robins by Eileen ChristelowChristelow’s lively digital sketches depict robins as they hatch, learn how to be robins, avoid danger, and (mostly) survive until it’s time to head south. A pair of nestlings provide factual commentary and a touch of humor on every page. The smooth narrative makes this a good choice for reading aloud in the classroom, but be aware that Christelow doesn’t shy away from letting us know that many babies fall victim to predators. Back matter includes a glossary, two fascinating pages of additional facts, and a list of sources. This most uncommonly satisfying book about our most common bird is a must for all collections.

About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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