Sounds of Spring! Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? by Rita Gray
CARDINAL WEARS A POINTY HAT.
CHICKADEE IS AN ACROBAT,
BUT HAVE YOU HEARD THE NESTING BIRD?
"IT DOESN'T SING, NOT EVEN A BIT!
ALL IT DOES IS SIT AND SIT."
There's something in the air, and the birds are busy announcing the coming of spring with a busy cacophony in the trees. Crows caw, woodpeckers drum, and sparrows cheep their repetitive chirp.
But a boy and a girl, out for a walk in the greening woods, notice something strange.
The only quiet one in the trees is that time-honored harbinger of spring, the robin, sitting low and silent, on her nest.
Why is that? they wonder.
But then, something big begins to happen up there in that nest. There's a cracking, breaking sound, and the robin hops up and about, excited by something going on inside. Then the kids see the robin surprisingly flying swiftly away from her nest--with something blue in her beak. And another robin suddenly flies to the nest, where there is noticeable peeping and cheeping noise to be heard.
"THE BABY BIRDS ARE HERE!"
Rita Gray's Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014), forthcoming today, takes two youngsters on a bird -watching walk where all the birds are telling them that spring is here--all except one. Gray's intriguing rhymes and onomatopoeic bird calls work perfectly with artist Kennard Pak's subtle watercolor illustrations. Pak keeps his palette quiet--with soft browns, grays, and greens--befitting the hushed admonition not to disturb the sitting bird.
But half the fun of the book is in Gray's appended interview with Mrs. Robin, "A Word with the Bird," as she explains that she keeps a low profile so as not to be noticed by predators, how she warms her eggs with her "brood patch" a spot on her breast that sheds its feathers so that her warm skin is in direct contact with the eggs, and how she removes the blue eggshells from the nest to keep it clean for the health of the hatchlings. In a FAQ format, readers ask Mama Robin all about egg care, just what the father robin is doing while she rests, whether they always sleep in nests, and how the parents care for fledglings even after they learn to fly on their own.
This is an exceptional book, assonant in text and enticing for the eyes, with lots of information about our feathered friends for classroom seasonal nature study units or potential beginning birders. No wonder American Library Association's Booklist calls it "A beautifully crafted, informative picture book."