cover image WILD BIRDS


Joanne Ryder, , illus. by Susan Estelle Kwas. . HarperCollins, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-06-027738-3

Softly hued backdrops contrast with vividly colored birds that flit and dart across the pages while Ryder's (Mouse Tail Moon) poetic prose beats out a rhythm to match their quick, fluttery movements. "Wild birds dip/ from sky to twig to earth,/ hopping or walking,/ tiptoeing through the grass." Kwas's (A Rumpus of Rhymes: A Book of Noisy Poems) animated watercolors offer varied perspectives of the nearly dozen birds featured. Starlings line telephone wires against a salmon sky at dawn in one spread, while spot illustrations feature images such as a red-winged blackbird squawking at a nervous cat. An unnamed girl with a birdwatching hobby silently witnesses the activity of her feathered friends, from robins and jays to sparrows and geese. Kwas pictures the girl whenever Ryder uses the second person, easing the narrative transition while also offering young readers a chance to step into the girl's shoes. At the book's climax, the girl fills a feeder in winter, and chickadees perch on her hand and hat ("You are holding/ a handful of feathers./ Small feet dance on your mittens./ .../ you feel/ a wild heart beating,/ beating quickly—like yours"). This colorful tribute should take wing with budding ornithologists and nature lovers alike. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)