Birds

( 4 )

Overview

Birds come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Birds are magic. Birds are everywhere. If you listen very carefully you will hear them, no matter where you live. And if you look very closely you will see them, no matter where you are. And if you can't go outside right this minute, you can always read this book!

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Overview

Birds come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Birds are magic. Birds are everywhere. If you listen very carefully you will hear them, no matter where you live. And if you look very closely you will see them, no matter where you are. And if you can't go outside right this minute, you can always read this book!

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Little girls can't fly, but they do share one great gift with birds: They can sing. This sweet picture book will send young readers soaring into Dreamland. An enchanting story; charming illustrations.
Booklist
"The words and pictures create a book that will enchant preschool audiences again and again."
Horn Book
"Words and pictures perform a perfectly choreographed dance here."
Publishers Weekly

Husband-and-wife team Henkes and Dronzek (Oh!) record random thoughts about birds, enlivened by vignettes of thickly outlined bird shapes feathered with primary-school paintbox colors. Observations as spare as haiku-"Sometimes, in winter, a bird in a tree looks like one red leaf left over"-are pictured wistfully; here, a cardinal perches, leaf-like, on a high branch of a leafless tree. The appeal throughout is Henkes's ability to channel the way young children think ("If birds made marks with their tail feathers when they flew, think what the sky would look like") and see ("If there are lots of birds in one tree and they all fly away at the same time, it looks like the tree yelled, 'SURPRISE!' "). Although the artwork most often follows the text's lead, richer moments come when Dronzek steps forward and does the imagining. "If clouds were birds, the sky would look like this," Henkes writes; with a dry, loosely wielded brush, Dronzek paints bird-shaped silhouettes of clouds tinted the same color as the setting sun they soar over. A kind of book of meditations for the very young, its reflective tone and peaceful illustrations make this an excellent bedtime choice. Ages 2-5. (Mar.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Henkes begins this work with a familiar observation: "In the morning I hear birds singing through the open window." The birds that can be found amid the apple blossoms are of many colors and sizes. Birds are perched on the wire, and then they are gone. Our narrator imagines the patterns the birds could make with their tails when flying in the sky or if they were clouds. She also ponders where the birds go in a storm when they can't reach their nests. She likes to pretend she is a bird, even though she cannot fly. She can sing, and she likes to sing along with a bird. The brief, simple text printed in large type is really just a skeleton for Dronzek's impressionistic acrylic paintings of the different birds. They are imaginatively displayed: three telephone wires hold seven brown birds repeated on two pages; the next double page shows an empty line. Another double page is filled with multicolored arabesques, the patterns made as the birds fly. Still another shows the multitude of black birds exploding from a tree, as the text reveals that "it looks like the tree yelled, ‘surprise!'" in large black letters. This book is visually simple but also informative and inspiring. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

PreS-K

This brief introduction to birds focuses on such basic features as their different colors and sizes. Soft acrylic paintings that appear as spreads, vignettes, and framed scenes match a text that perfectly conveys the young narrator's fascination with the birds in her environment. "Once I saw seven birds on the telephone wire. They didn't move and they didn't move and they didn't move. I looked away for just a second...." Three lines of identically positioned birds on wires appear with the text across the spread. Then a page turn reveals a thick, black, empty wire stretched across a stark white spread along with the words "and they were gone." The youngster imagines what the sky would look like if the birds could make marks with their tails and how bird-clouds would look during the day and at night. She can't really fly like the birds, but the final page demonstrates one way in which she can imitate them. The child voice in this charming story is just right and will resonate with the very youngest children. And the little girl's musings can encourage more "what if" conversations that will spark their imaginations.-Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT

Kirkus Reviews
A precocious girl's reverie begins when the birds' morning songs drift through her window. Initially, she reflects on their vastly varied physical attributes; her thoughts then turn to the birds' relationship with their physical environment, both collectively and individually. Powerful images reflect their beauty. "Sometimes in winter, a bird in a tree looks like one red leaf left over." While the girl wishes to fly like birds she enjoys, she is encouraged by the commonality that unites them: "I can sing!" Dronzek's wavy black lines accentuate the birds' natural radiance; acrylic smudges exude a hazy glow. Dark bursts of color explode against the sky in a striking double-page spread as a flock takes flight en masse; the word "surprise" above outstretched branches reflects the thought with bold uneven letters. Spare language enhances the story's quiet essence; the girl's musings change abruptly, with a child's mercurial speed, resulting in a grounded offering that begins to fly but doesn't fully soar. (Picture book. 3-6)
New York Times Book Review
“Birds trust[s] the intelligence and imagination of young children, and that’s what makes this a perfect book.”
Horn Book (starred review)
“Words and pictures perform a perfectly choreographed dance here.”
Booklist (starred review)
“The words and pictures create a book that will enchant preschool audiences again and again.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061363047
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/17/2009
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 114,841
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD410L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 11.56 (w) x 9.66 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Kevin Henkes

Kevin Henkes is the author and illustrator of close to fifty critically acclaimed and award-winning picture books, beginning readers, and novels. He received the Caldecott Medal for Kitten's First Full Moon in 2005. Kevin Henkes is also the creator of a number of picture books featuring his mouse characters, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers Lilly's Big Day and Wemberly Worried, the Caldecott Honor Book Owen, and the beloved Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse. His most recent mouse character, Penny, was introduced in Penny and Her Song (2012); her story continued in Penny and Her Doll and Penny and Her Marble (a Geisel Honor Book). Bruce Handy, in a New York Times Book Review piece about A Good Day, wrote, "It should be said: Kevin Henkes is a genius." Kevin Henkes received two Newbery Honors for novels—one for his newest novel for young readers, The Year of Billy Miller, and the other for Olive's Ocean. Also among his fiction for older readers are the novels Junonia, Bird Lake Moon, The Birthday Room, and Sun & Spoon. He lives with his family in Madison, Wisconsin.

Laura Dronzek is a painter whose work has been exhibited nationally. Her picture books include Moonlight, by Helen V. Griffith; the acclaimed Birds, by Kevin Henkes; and White Is for Blueberry, by George Shannon. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Biography

Kevin Henkes still owns some of his favorite books from childhood. "They're brimming with all the telltale signs of true love: dog-eared pages, fingerprints on my favorite illustrations, my name and address inscribed on both front and back covers in inch-high lettering, and the faint smell of stale peanut butter on the bindings," he says in an interview on his web site.

Back in his peanut-butter sandwich days, Henkes dreamed of becoming an artist. By high school, he had combined his love of drawing with a newfound interest in writing, and at age 19, he took his portfolio to New York City in hopes of finding a publisher. Young Henkes returned home from his weeklong trip with a contract from Greenwillow Books, and he's worked as a children's writer and illustrator ever since.

Henkes's style has evolved over the years to include more humor, more whimsy and a lot more mice. Though he began illustrating his picture books with realistic drawings of children, he's since developed a recurring cast of mouse characters rendered in a more cartoon-like style -- though with a range of expressions that make the spirited Lilly, anxious Wemberly, fearless Sheila Rae and sensitive Chrysanthemum into highly believable heroines. Owen, the story of a little mouse who isn't ready to give up his tattered security blanket, won a Caldecott Honor Medal for its winsome watercolor-and-ink illustrations.

Many of Henkes's mouse books deal with such common childhood ordeals as starting school, being teased and getting lost. Chrysanthemum, about a mouse whose new schoolmates tease her about her name, was inspired by Henkes's own feelings when he started school. "The book is about family, and how starting something new and going out into the world can be very hard," he told an interviewer for The Five Owls. "I remember going to kindergarten -- my grandfather had a beautiful rose garden, and he gave me the last roses of the season to bring to the kindergarten teacher the next day. I don't even remember how it happened, but an older kid took these flowers from me on the playground, and I remember coming home, feeling awful." As a grown-up, Henkes is able to translate difficult childhood transitions into stories that are both honest and reassuring. In a review of Chrysanthemum, Kirkus Reviews noted: "Henkes's language and humor are impeccably fresh, his cozy illustrations sensitive and funny, his little asides to adults an unobtrusive delight."

Henkes has also written novels for older children, in which he "explores family relationships with breathtaking tenderness" (Publisher's Weekly). In The Birthday Room, for example, a twelve-year-old boy learns the reason for his mother's long estrangement from her brother, and helps effect a reconciliation. "Refreshingly, Henkes has given us a male protagonist who is reflective, creative and emotionally sensitive," wrote Karen Leggett in The New York Times Book Review. "Ben feels the anguish of his mother's long-simmering bitterness and his uncle's agonizing guilt. Yet at a time when it is almost a fad to blame dysfunctional families for problems, we learn that even though there are never simple answers and not many fairy-tale endings, families can heal."

Though his novels are more complex and serious than his picture books, all Henkes's works suggest an author with deep empathy for the intense emotions of childhood. As a Publisher's Weekly reviewer wrote, "Behind each book is a wide-open heart, one readers can't help but respond to, that makes all of Henkes's books of special value to children."

Good To Know

Henkes's wife, Laura Dronzek, is also an artist. She painted the cover illustration for Henkes' novel Sun and Spoon and illustrated his picture book Oh!.

Henkes has turned down requests to use his mouse characters in a television series, but some of his books are available in video form in Chrysanthemum and More Kevin Henkes Stories. The video's narrators include Meryl Streep, Sarah Jessica Parker and Mary Beth Hurt.

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse has been adapted into a stage play.

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    1. Hometown:
      Madison, Wisconsin
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 27, 1960
    2. Place of Birth:
      Racine, Wisconsin
    1. Education:
      University of Wisconsin, Madison
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Nice book

    This book is a whimsical book about birds. My son enjoys it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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