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

( 7 )

Overview

Calvin is one unusual starling! While his siblings and cousins learn to fly, this rare bird lets his imagination soar while reading about pirates, dinosaurs, and other fascinating things. The other birds call him “geeky beaky,” but Calvin just ruffles his feathers and buries his beak in a book. Yet, when it comes time to migrate, poor Calvin suddenly realizes he can't fly!  His sisters, brothers, and cousins carry him into the air.

But on their way south, the winds blow ...

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Overview

Calvin is one unusual starling! While his siblings and cousins learn to fly, this rare bird lets his imagination soar while reading about pirates, dinosaurs, and other fascinating things. The other birds call him “geeky beaky,” but Calvin just ruffles his feathers and buries his beak in a book. Yet, when it comes time to migrate, poor Calvin suddenly realizes he can't fly!  His sisters, brothers, and cousins carry him into the air.

But on their way south, the winds blow hard, the trees bend, and the air starts to smell strange. It's a hurricane, and only Calvin can save the day-because he has read all about it!

Witty illustrations, an endearing hero, and a delightful story make this a true celebration of the pleasures of reading!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
From the Publisher
"The irresistible story of a proud bookworm will put smiles on the faces of readers of all ages. Calvin is a young starling with a huge family. While his brothers, sisters and 67,432 cousins are off discovering nature and learning to fly, Calvin is content to keep his beak in a good book—books will take him places his wings never could, after all. When the season changes and it is time to migrate, Calvin realizes he was too busy learning...to learn how to fly! His loving family find a way to bring him along, but they run into treacherous weather along their journey. Luckily, Calvin has read just what to do and saves his entire flock. The illustrations are wildly original and full of funny details (check out the highly technical flight classes and the cows' lipstick). With their stick legs, flat heads and fluffy hair(s), the starlings are endearingly comical. Between its heartwarming (but never treacly) story and quirky illustrations, this tale should be a staple among book-loving families as well as in libraries and elementary classrooms for years to come." --Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
 
"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. - Publisher's Weekly
School Library Journal
PreS-K—While Calvin's siblings learn things birds need to know, the young starling has his beak buried in books. He reads adventure stories, legends, and poetry while his brothers and sisters chase bugs and learn to fly. Calvin is happiest in the library. "His books took him to places wings never could. And his heart fluttered with excitement." When autumn arrives, all the starlings prepare to go south—except Calvin. The flock takes off without him, but his brothers and sisters come to his aid. They tie strings around his waist and take off, towing Calvin along with them. He is excited as he sees the things he's read about, but soon he senses that they are heading into a hurricane. The starlings don't know what a hurricane is but heed his warning and take refuge in a cave. They are safe as the storm roars by. During the celebration that follows, Calvin hops and flaps in jubilation and realizes that he does know how to fly. The gouache illustrations show the starlings looking square and rather penguinlike. The pictures are pleasant but not interesting enough to carry the slight story. While a book that touts the pleasure and usefulness of reading is usually welcome, this one falls short.—Ieva Bates, Ann Arbor District Library, MI
Kirkus Reviews
The irresistible story of a proud bookworm will put smiles on the faces of readers of all ages. Calvin is a young starling with a huge family. While his brothers, sisters and 67,432 cousins are off discovering nature and learning to fly, Calvin is content to keep his beak in a good book—books will take him places his wings never could, after all. When the season changes and it is time to migrate, Calvin realizes he was too busy learning...to learn how to fly! His loving family find a way to bring him along, but they run into treacherous weather along their journey. Luckily, Calvin has read just what to do and saves his entire flock. The illustrations are wildly original and full of funny details (check out the highly technical flight classes and the cows' lipstick). With their stick legs, flat heads and fluffy hair(s), the starlings are endearingly comical. Between its heartwarming (but never treacly) story and quirky illustrations, this tale should be a staple among book-loving families as well as in libraries and elementary classrooms for years to come. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402773235
  • Publisher: Sterling
  • Publication date: 9/7/2010
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 121,917
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Berne has been a long-time contributor to Nick Jr. Magazine, and a writer for both print and TV. Her recent award-winning picture book, Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau, is one of Calvin's favorites.  
Keith Bendis's work has appeared in the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Fortune, and Time. Keith was the illustrator for William Safire's “On Language” column in the New York Times Magazine, and for nine books including William Kotzwinkle's The Fan Man and the best-selling Casey at the Bat. He lives on an old farm in Columbia County, NY.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(6)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 6 of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2013

    Mom of 2... Love, love, love this book. Fun, creative and a boo

    Mom of 2... Love, love, love this book. Fun, creative and a book about books! Calvin is a bookworm birdie to busy learning to read to learn how to fly. He gets into trouble when it's time to migrate but his family comes to his rescue. A favor only he can return when they later fly into a hurricane & only he knows how to save the day.

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  • Posted November 15, 2011

    Sweet and cute

    This is such a great story. It is sweet and cute.It has such. a wonderful story.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 20, 2010

    Highly recommended-you must check it out!

    My 7 year old and his classmates absolutely love Calvin Can't Fly. He keeps it by his bedside and has asked me to read it again and again! It's a funny book wth funny characters, wonderful illustrations and a great story line. Buy it you will enjoy it!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 6 of 7 Customer Reviews

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