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Review of Bird Builds a Nest

Bird Builds a Nest [A First Science Storybook]
by Martin Jenkins; illus. by Richard Jones
Preschool, Primary    Candlewick    32 pp.    g
2/18    978-0-7636-9346-6    $16.99

Striking mixed-media illustrations, collage-like and muted with earth tones, depict a burnt-orange sun rising in the east and a bird perched on a tree branch, perfectly representing the opening sentence of this nature narrative: “It’s a beautiful day!” Here viewers see Bird at work, first procuring a worm as she pulls and pulls, and then building a nest: she lifts twigs (though some are too heavy); undeterred, she finds smaller twigs and pushes and pulls all her materials until they are in place and the nest is a “snug little cup.” Jenkins deftly weaves natural and physical science into this tale. The overarching narrative here concerns birds’ life cycle, as the nest eventually holds five “speckled and beautiful” eggs that, by the book’s closing spread and endpapers, have hatched. Inside that narrative Jenkins unobtrusively introduces the concept of force with examples of pulling and pushing; heavy and light; and gravity. Jones’s illustrations mirror the text, allowing the youngest readers to create a story without the words but also giving them the pleasure of reading on their own after perhaps just one read-aloud. These illustrations, in their stylized beauty, depict the most basic elements of the natural world and highlight the text’s focus on science. The entire reading experience indeed heralds a “beautiful day.” Appended with a note (“Thinking About Pushing and Pulling”) and an index.

From the January/February 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Betty Carter

Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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