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Bird Talk

Bird Talk

by Ann Jonas

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When children get their hands on this book, they are sure to really read it, to really really read it. Or so says the magnolia warbler. And the magnolia warbler is not the only one with an opinion. There are sixty-three bird species talking their way through this funny backyard story.


When children get their hands on this book, they are sure to really read it, to really really read it. Or so says the magnolia warbler. And the magnolia warbler is not the only one with an opinion. There are sixty-three bird species talking their way through this funny backyard story.

Editorial Reviews

Christine Heppermann
Bird Talk is enormously satisfying to read aloud.
Riverbank Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Jonas (Aardvarks Disembark!) records here, alongside accomplished artwork, the sounds of various birds as memory phrases coined by ornithologists to help us hear and remember bird songs. Every spread presents a roundup of species, each issuing his characteristic call. For example, a sunrise scene shows birds in a natural setting greeting one another with cartoon bubbles such as Wide-a-wake! (Sooty Tern), Hey Al! (Razorbill) and Hiyah Hiyah Hiyah Hiyah (Herring Gull). But at other times, the birds ostensibly react to contrived situations, as when the birds appear to be talking to a classroom filled with children (Teacher Teacher Teacher Teacher, says the Ovenbird, while the Magnolia Warbler cries, To Really Read It, To Really, Really Read It); yet the children seem deaf to the commotion outside their open window. With no story line or supporting text, other than the birds sounds, readers without prior knowledge of the feathered creatures may have difficulty discerning whats real from what is artificial here. Jonass finely detailed illustrations of the bird species, however, will please both novices and seasoned birdwatchers. Ages 3-up. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Dr. Judy Rowen
Birders often remember bird calls by assigning "memory phrases" to them, for instance, a scolding blue jay sounds as if he is saying "thief, thief, thief." Jonas has culled these memory phrases from several sources and depicts the birds saying them when placed in very human situations, for instance, the crow's familiar "car, car, car" is sounded when a crow perches on a telephone wire over a road as a car approaches. The birds are not named in the illustrations but are listed at the back of the book, as are additional references about birds. This makes the book awkward for sharing by anyone except an experienced birder as the average reader will not recognize species such as the black-throated blue warbler.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-A clever idea that doesn't quite fly. Jonas bases this chatty little picture book on "memory phrases" or words that naturalists often use to recognize and remember bird songs. The ever-playful author takes the notion a step further by putting the birds in situations in which their calls or repeated phrases may seem appropriate. For example, the book starts at dawn with a solitary sooty tern calling, "Wide-a-wake!" and a mockingbird echoes its greeting. As the day progresses, an ovenbird on the window ledge outside a classroom is overheard saying, "Teacher, teacher, teacher, teacher," while a chestnut-sided warbler calls out, "See, see, see, Miss Beecher, please, please, pleased to meet'cha," and a magnolia warbler laments, "To really read it, to really, really read it." The problem is that the songs are rarely so simple or straightforward. Jonas's bird groupings and behaviors are highly improbable and may confuse rather than inform readers. The full-color watercolor and black-pen artwork is certainly accomplished and appealing. Unfortunately, readers have to flip to the back of the book to identify the birds on each page. While encouraging young nature lovers to listen to and learn to identify the sounds around them is certainly an admirable goal, Bird Talk is apt to frustrate more potential wildlife lovers than it recruits.-Luann Toth, School Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
Jonas (Watch William Walk, 1997, etc.) "eavesdrops" on dozens of birds, then transcribes their phrases in this unique guide to bird calls. Intrigued by "memory phrases," descriptions of bird songs found in birdwatching guides, Jonas playfully places birds in conversation with each other, then graphically provides a human context that makes their talk humorous. For example, birds whose chatter is "Kitty-kitty-kitty," "Meow," or "Kitty-Go" are posed flying over, wading beside, or hovering near a tabby cat hiding in beach grass. Perched outside a classroom window, the mockingbird calls, "Teacher, teacher," alongside the yellow-throated vireo and magnolia warbler who have school-related reading and numbers as part of their songs. The funniest spread pairs birds such as the Carolina wren, who sings "Tea-kettle, tea-kettle" with the Rufous-sided towhee, saying, "Drink your tea, drink your tea," outside a kitchen window where the stove boasts a whistling tea kettle. Another has the same towhee exclaiming, "Hot-dog-pickle-ickle-ickle" next to the common nighthawk singing, "Pork, beans" from a tree that shades a picnic site. Each bird is deftly drawn in true-to-life colors with a preciseness of line that makes for easy identification. The accompanying sounds are presented in clearly delineated speech bubbles using varying sizes and fonts. It's hard not to warble along, inspired by the riotous conversations in this comely book that is sure to have readers "cheerily-cheer-up" with "glug glug glee." (Picture book. 3-8)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1 ED
Product dimensions:
9.36(w) x 9.34(h) x 0.37(d)
Age Range:
3 - 8 Years

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