cover image Have You Heard the Nesting Bird?

Have You Heard the Nesting Bird?

Rita Gray, illus. by Kenard Pak. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-544-10580-5

Layering delicate leaves and branches in green-browns, gold-greens, and touches of scarlet, newcomer Pak gives Gray’s (One Big Rain) story about nesting robins a quiet, measured dynamism. The restraint of the artwork dovetails nicely with the story’s themes: caretaking, which is what the nesting robin is doing, and observation, which is what a human boy and girl are doing. The two talk about the birds they see, some of which are voicing their characteristic calls (“Sparrow makes a simple jingle./ chiddik, chiddik/ Swallow slides from under a shingle./ ha-ha-chit-chit-chit”). One bird, though, is mysteriously silent. “ ‘Not a single tweet or trill.’/ ‘This nesting bird is so still!’ ” The secret to the robin’s long stay on her nest is revealed as a dialogue between the sounds coming from the nest (“Tapping Cracking”) and the children’s observations (“The bird is starting to move around!”). It’s a fine first book about watching living beings in the wild, and it also serves as a beginning birders’ guide, identifying the features and cries of common backyard birds. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Fiona Kenshole, Transatlantic Literary Agency. (Mar.)■