cover image Basil's Birds

Basil's Birds

Lynn Rowe Reed, . . Marshall Cavendish, $17.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7614-5627-8

A school custodian carefully tends a bird's nest he finds on his head, and when the baby birds fly away, empty nest syndrome hits him hard. Basil Berkmeister offers the nestlings worm pie to lure them back, but it's not until Father's Day that he discovers how much they care. The birds are made of fired clay, and Reed (Please Don't Upset P.U. Zorilla ) mixes photo images and naïve-style painting for Basil's puppetlike body and paintbrush hair. His teeth are dots of white paint, making him look a little like a Mexican Day of the Dead mask. His tender care for his charges provides the satisfaction in this offbeat tale, and his willingness to make the most of his odd circumstances supplies the laughs, as when he discovers the nest is a conversation starter. “Look!” he says to a woman in a polka-dot bikini top, pointing to the mother bird on his head. “Her suit is sort of like yours!” (Sure enough, the bird has a matching miniature bikini.) Love spreads more love, Basil finds, and readers will feel it, too. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)