cover image Birdsongs


Betsy Franco-Feeney, , illus. by Steve Jenkins. . S&S/McElderry, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-87777-3

Franco (Mathematickles! ) and 2004 Caldecott Honor artist Jenkins (What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? ) celebrate the free concert that birds perform for backyard audiences every day. There's a method to their merriment: as the book introduces various species, it uses their sounds to count down from 10 to one. At dawn, a hungry, red-capped woodpecker "raps a tap dance with his beak, pecking 10 times as he looks for breakfast bugs." By the time evening shadows gather, a tiny hummingbird emits a single, comically evocative "tzik" as she "sucks one last treat from the trumpet-shaped honeysuckle in the garden." (It's not the last word, however—that's provided by a mockingbird who recapitulates all the sounds she's heard from her fellow feathered creatures that day.) Jenkins's gorgeous, boldly graphic collages make the birds seem at once familiar and magical; in the startling close-ups and dramatic framings, the winged creatures seem to fly off the page. The generous typography used for the birds' sounds is certain to inspire plenty of audience participation, as youngsters attempt to "eeyah" like a gull, "dee dee" like a chickadee and "caw" like a crow. Ages 3-7. (Jan.)