cover image Birds


Kevin Henkes, , illus. by Laura Dronzek. . Greenwillow, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-136304-7

Husband-and-wife team Henkes and Dronzek (Oh! ) record random thoughts about birds, enlivened by vignettes of thickly outlined bird shapes feathered with primary-school paintbox colors. Observations as spare as haiku—“Sometimes, in winter, a bird in a tree looks like one red leaf left over”—are pictured wistfully; here, a cardinal perches, leaf-like, on a high branch of a leafless tree. The appeal throughout is Henkes's ability to channel the way young children think (“If birds made marks with their tail feathers when they flew, think what the sky would look like”) and see (“If there are lots of birds in one tree and they all fly away at the same time, it looks like the tree yelled, 'SURPRISE!' ”). Although the artwork most often follows the text's lead, richer moments come when Dronzek steps forward and does the imagining. “If clouds were birds, the sky would look like this,” Henkes writes; with a dry, loosely wielded brush, Dronzek paints bird-shaped silhouettes of clouds tinted the same color as the setting sun they soar over. A kind of book of meditations for the very young, its reflective tone and peaceful illustrations make this an excellent bedtime choice. Ages 2–5. (Mar.)