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The early bird

After a long, hard winter, spring has finally returned. With it come our little feathered friends — and picture books about them.

konnecke_you can do it, bertIn Ole Könnecke’s humorous, cheering picture book You Can Do It, Bert!, a small red bird walks out to the end of a slender tree branch, trepidation written all over his face. “This is Bert. It’s his big day.” A brief, direct-address text follows Bert as he flaps his wings, checks his environment, and looks like he’s about to take a running start…but no, not yet. Simple shapes and minimal detail keep readers’ attention squarely on the (in)action — with a surprise twist! (Gecko, 2–5 years)

cronin_smickWith just a few words but a bounty of playfulness, Doreen Cronin introduces preschoolers (and early readers) to good-natured, droopy-eared dog Smick! During a game of fetch between dog and offstage narrator (“Stick?”), Smick is distracted by a “Cluck!” and discovers: chick. All ends in joyful friendship: “Sidekick… / Sidechick. / Side lick! ick.” Digital art by Juana Medina mostly consists of simple black lines against expansive white space that communicate Smick’s constant motion and boundless energy. (Viking, 2–5 years)

yolen_you nest here with meJane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple’s You Nest Here with Me incorporates real-life information about birds into a comforting bedtime picture book. A mother reads to her daughter (from a book called…You Nest Here with Me) about the different places birds can make their nests — “Pigeons nest on concrete ledges, / Catbirds nest in greening hedges…” The reassuring refrain is “You nest here with me.” Melissa Sweet’s watercolor, gouache, and mixed-media illustrations are both lovely and accurate in their depictions of the avian creatures and their habitats. (Boyds Mills, 2–5 years)

paschkis_p. zonka lays an eggA hen named P. Zonka is dismissed by the other chickens as a dreamer; she’s more concerned with flowers, clouds, and the colors of the sky than with laying eggs. Cajoled into trying it, P. Zonka finally succeeds, but her egg surprises everyone. Julie Paschkis’s P. Zonka Lays an Egg gives one possible (and humorous) explanation behind the tradition of those beautiful Ukrainian pysanky. Her watercolors, filled with repeated patterns and a beautiful use of black outlines, seem to pop off the pages. (Peachtree, 4–7 years)

From the April 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College and a BA from Oberlin College.

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