cover image Calvin Can't Fly: The Story of a Bookworm Birdie

Calvin Can't Fly: The Story of a Bookworm Birdie

Jennifer Berne, illus. by Keith Bendis, Sterling, $14.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4027-7323-5

In a lively children's book debut, Bendis contributes gouache cartoons that bring action and droll wit to Berne's (Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau) story about valuable experiences to be found both inside and outside books. Young starling Calvin—humorously depicted as a squarish, wide-eyed bird with long, spindly legs—is a loner. While his seven siblings and more than 67,000 cousins ("Starlings have big families") learn how to fly, Calvin spends his days reading. Hurt by taunts of "nerdy birdie" and "geeky beaky," the book lover waddles to the library, "the only place where he was happy." When it's time to head south for the winter and Calvin still doesn't know how to fly, the other starlings gamely tie strings to him to tow him along. An approaching hurricane gives Calvin a chance to show off his book smarts ("We need to get out of the path of a violent, tropical weather system, which... will not diminish until it encounters large stretches of landmass!"). Regular doses of humor in the text and art happily keep the story from migrating into sentimentality. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)