Feathered Friends: Birds by Kevin Henkes
Sometimes in winter a bird in a tree looks like one red leaf left over.
If there were lots of birds in one tree and they all fly away at the same time, it looks like the tree yelled
S U R P R I S E!
Delicate, yet hardy. That what birds are, and in this child's-eye view of birds and their ways, award-winning author Kevin Henkes and inspired illustrator Laura Droncek have created a lovely picture book which makes the reader take a second look at these common backyard creatures.
Birds can be yellow or blue, and brown or red. Or even green, I think.
Sometimes they are so black that you can't see their eye or even feathers.
Just their shapes.
Although Henkes' text is simple and childlike, his observations summon up arresting mental images.
Once I saw seven birds on the telephone wires.
The didn't move, and they didn't move, and they didn't move.
I looked away for a second
And they were gone.
In a perfect pairing of text and art, Droncek's illustration shows the birds, silhouetted in black on the wire, like clothespins left behind on a line after the laundry is taken down. The following double-page spread shows only the empty telephone wire stretched across the two pages against a matte-white background. Other pages show the featured birds in illustrations evocative of a medieval tapestry, simple but iconic, species accurate but full of the essence of the bird itself.
Henkes' just-published Birds (Greewillow, 2009) is a beautifully-designed volume pretty enough for a coffee table book but inviting enough to be a toddler's favorite lap book.
Other notable books by this very versatile writer are his picture book classics starring Lilly of Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, his starting-to-school standards Chrysanthemum and Owen (Caldecott Honor Book), the Caldecott Award-winning Kitten's First Full Moon, and his Newberry Honor novel Olive's Ocean.
Labels: Birds Stories (Ages 1-6)