Review of We Are Starlings: Inside the Mesmerizing Magic of a Murmuration

We Are Starlings: Inside the Mesmerizing Magic of a Murmuration We Are Starlings: Inside the Mesmerizing Magic of a Murmuration
by Robert Furrow and Donna Jo Napoli; illus. by Marc Martin
Primary    Random House Studio/Random    40 pp.
5/23    9780593381632    $18.99
Library ed.  9780593381649    $21.99
e-book ed.  9780593381663    $11.99

Starlings are social birds, at times flying in groups so large that their wings create a murmuring sound that can be heard by humans on the ground. A honed text and stunning watercolor, pencil, and digital collage illustrations work together to give readers a sense of this phenomenon. “There are hundreds of us! / There are thousands of us! / There are millions of us!” Furrow brings his background as a scientist and Napoli her wide experience writing for children to this collaboration that has both the rhythm of poetry and simple but accurate information: “We find strength and safety in numbers. / We find warmth in numbers.” Starlings fill and overflow the pages, swooping in gorgeous waves across the double-page spreads as the birds escape from a hungry falcon or land en masse in a field. The colors of the mixed-media illustrations bleed and blend together. The edges of each bird’s wings are indistinct, smudging and overlapping as the mass travels together across the reds, oranges, and pinks of the sky. A striking gatefold gives a sense of the massive scale of a murmuration. An endnote gives readers additional information about starling behavior. Pair with Scanlon and Preston-Gannon’s One Dark Bird (rev. 7/19).

From the July/August 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Maeve Visser Knoth

Maeve Visser Knoth is a librarian at Phillips Brooks School, Menlo Park, ­California. She has chaired the Notable Children’s Books Committee and taught at Notre Dame de Namur University and Lesley University.

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