cover image TWO BLUE JAYS


Anne F. Rockwell, , illus. by Megan Halsey. . Walker, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-8840-5

Using a school setting, Rockwell and Halsey (who collaborated on One Bean) share an abundance of bird information in an organic, personal way. A girl with brown hair and glasses narrates as her class watches a pair of blue jays build a nest, lay eggs and raise their young. Halsey's layered collage compositions, photographed for a three-dimensional effect, heighten the drama playing out in nature. For instance, as the teacher explains to the narrator why the mother jay must keep her eggs warm ("Because baby blue jays are growing inside"), the artist creates three time-lapse drawings of the forming fetus within a trio of egg-shaped white backgrounds. An aerial view of the nest itself, photographed against a light blue background, emulates the sense of peering down into the nest. Other bird facts slip in through children's observations, dialogue and activities. Halsey's lively, multilayered illustrations appear to catch the gorgeous, cobalt birds in mid-flight, and Rockwell's forthright approach will grab readers' attention. Describing the baby birds, the author observes, "They weren't cute and cuddly like some baby animals are.... Not one of the baby birds had a single feather." Children may well catch the narrator's enthusiasm: "Whenever I see a blue jay or hear it squawking, 'Jay! Jay! Jay!' I always wonder if it's one of ours." An author's note shares additional information, and endpapers display a lovely line-up of nine other common feathered friends (and their eggs). Ages 4-8. (Mar.)