Wednesday, April 16, 2014

No Place Like Home: Nest by Jorey Hurley

Those iconic signs of spring, a nesting pair of robins have woven grasses into the age-old basket shape just as the sun begins to waken the bare trees from their winter rest.


The story begins with the father and mother robin gazing into the nest where they see one robin's-egg-blue egg. The mother settles down to shelter her egg on the nest and the dad flies off to find food and a nearby branch where he can keep watch.

As leaves and blooms peep out, the parent birds know that soon the baby will hatch and after a frenzy of feeding, he will grow feathers and the speckled orange breast of the juvenile. As he gets stronger, he can jump from the nest and from limb to limb in his tree, as Mom and Dad keep a watchful eye, knowing that soon he will fly on his own.

Soon their tree is filled with red berries and the robins feast on them, until they stop to stare in surprise--at a purple kite rising above their tree.

Soon the leaves change colors, the wind begins to blow, and the three robins snuggle together on their perch to sleep. And when they awake, the fledgling dares to soar down to the ground to explore for worms. The older robins watch, somehow seeming to know that their young one will meet another young robin and that when spring returns again, they, too, will build another nest in their tree.

Jorey Hurley's debut picture book, Nest (Simon & Schuster, 2014), uses only thirteen words, one for each two-page spread, to tell the familiar story of the robins' life cycle and the changing seasons. Hurley's illustrations are striking--with a strong but burnished palette in simple line drawings and flat color laid against a matte-white background. Her robins are realistic, without a trace of cartooning or anthropomorphism, but also iconic, without shading or detailing, and her tree is also simple and stylized without losing any of its tree-ness. Preschoolers will be drawn into the little drama as the egg becomes chick and the chick becomes fledgling and then an adult, and emergent readers will have plenty of context to help them read the natural and easy text on their own. The author adds an appendix with extra information about nesting. For classroom units, read this one as an introduction to Rita Gray's delightful Have You Heard the Nesting Bird?

School Library Journal says,"Nest's beauty and originality will stand up to countless re-readings."

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