cover image The King of the Birds

The King of the Birds

Helen Ward, Helen Ward. Millbrook Press, $15.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7613-0288-9

In this gleeful celebration of ornithological heterogeneity, birds gather to choose a king. But what virtue should distinguish the future king--its size, its speed, its color? Finally the convention settles on the ability to fly the highest. Just as the eagle appears to have wrapped up the contest, a hitchhiking wren loosens itself from the eagle's feathers and flaps a wee bit higher. Flowing naturally and economically, Ward's (Christmas Pageant) text also lends itself to playful voices for spirited read-alouds. Her eye-catching watercolors, which set the birds against crisp white backgrounds, are as dynamic and varied in presentation as the birds themselves: some spreads favor raucous color and commotion, others spare tranquillity. While youngsters try to grasp the vast variety of birds (a key in the back identifies scores), they'll delight in naming the easily recognizable ones. This beautifully illustrated introduction to the feathered kingdom is something to crow over. Ages 5-up. (Aug.)