Review of Nesting

by Henry Cole; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Tegen/HarperCollins    40 pp.
3/20    978-0-06-288592-0    $17.99

Every spring, across North America, robins mate, build nests, lay eggs, and nurture their young. Cole illustrates this sequence of events with a pair of robins, employing gentle black-and-white crosshatching and one dramatic pop of color: the signature deep robin's-egg blue of the eggs, which is echoed in a soft wash in several scenes. Uncomplicated language describes the nesting process, while illustrations both mirror and extend the text. For example, a single page shows four distinct views of the female on her nest, indicating the passage of time. "She keeps the eggs warm. She is patient. Inside each egg, a baby bird is growing." On one double-page spread, twelve panels show both parents leaving the nest to search for food and returning with their bounty, reinforcing the consistency of the routine. Far from placid, the robins' lives are full of danger. A fierce storm and a predatory snake underscore the fragility of their lives and add drama to the otherwise quiet narrative. The solidly scientific account comes full circle as the baby birds learn to fly and begin to prepare for winter.

From the March/April 2020 Horn Book Magazine.

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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