cover image Baby Bird

Baby Bird

Joyce Dunbar. Candlewick Press (MA), $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-0322-9

Ayto's (Mrs. Potter's Pig) comic verve sets this book apart from other entries in the baby-bird-learns-to fly genre. The hero, rendered in watercolor and ink, is an adorably goofy-looking fellow, with big anxious eyes, even bigger feet and a bright orange beak, who expresses an emotion somewhere between abject fear and grim determination. Ayto lays out the story in a series of rectangular panels that provide a visual pacing to match the step-by-step cadence of Dunbar's (Oops-a-Daisy!) pithy, expertly pared rhyming text: ""This is the bird that climbed out of the nest and... flop flop flop... he fell."" After being sniffed by a squirrel, buzzed by a bee and leapt over by a frog, the put-upon baby bird encounters a stalking cat and a yawning, large-mouthed dog (in these latter moments of high drama, Ayto breaks into double-page spreads). Shaken but unscathed, the baby bird gives flying ""just one more try."" His wobbly flight takes him over the heads of all the other animals and back to his nest--a well-earned triumph likely to elicit shouts of glee from all who read along. Ages 2-5. (May)