Friday, April 18, 2014

Eggs-travaganza! Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward and Steve Jenkins

Mama built a little nest,
A cup so wee and snug,
With walls of moss and roof of sky
And a silky, cobweb rug.

Is your mama a hummingbird? If so, that's the first home you'll know. But if your mama is a weaver bird, well, there's another way to go.

Mama built a little nest.
She used her beak to sew
A woven nest of silky grass,
The perfect place to grow.

But then, there are always the outliers:

Mama built a little nest.
Well, actually she didn't.
She found one that another made,
And there she laid me in it.

Yep, if your mama is cowbird (or whydah or cuckoo), she's a squatter by nature.

As for people, it's location, location, location for bird homeowners. Falcons choose a high ledge on a cliff face called a scrape, safe from four-legged predators, and grebes fashion a floating island of sticks to outfox the foxes. Some nest builders are even daddies, as in the case of the possibly henpecked cactus wren, seriously seeking a captivating crib to attract his crush.

Daddy built a little nest.
And then he built another.
And another--and another--
Hoping to impress my mother.

There is a lot to consider for feathered house-hunters, and Jennifer Ward's latest, Mama Built a Little Nest (Beach Lane Books, 2014), covers the avian real estate scene while sharing the picture book making with outstanding nature artist Steve Jenkins in a marvelous treatise of the variety of ways birds seek their homey havens. Author and artist alternate pages of verse and illustrations: author Jennifer Ward outdoes herself in lovely and quirky quatrains with catchy punchlines which could have been penned either by the lyrical Romantic poet Percy B. Shelley or the hard-boiled Dorothy Parker,  and celebrated nature artist Steve Jenkins provides enticingly impressionistic and yet accurate paintings that beguile the eye and extend the text perfectly while offering additional information on each nest-builder.

This book works on several levels, as a primary grade science resource, an enticing read-aloud or real-alone book, and an eye-candy feast with its delightful illustrations. "A practically perfect picture book," as Publishers Weekly points out, this book offers nature study enlightened by enticing art and still manages to bring it all back home as all good storybooks should, just in time for a rest in that human nest.
A place to rest your head...
Your nest is called a bed

For more spring facts and fun, flock this one with Jill Esbaum's just published I Hatched! (see review here) and Jennifer Ward's die-cut delight, What Will Hatch? (see review here).

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