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Leaving the Nest

Overview

What do a baby blue jay, a kitten, a girl, and a baby squirrel have in common?

They are emphatically curious about the world.

They find it difficult to leave the place where they feel safest.

And, eventually, they must all spread their wings and fly.

With his ever-inventive art, Caldecott winner Mordicai Gerstein stretches the boundaries of ...

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Overview

What do a baby blue jay, a kitten, a girl, and a baby squirrel have in common?

They are emphatically curious about the world.

They find it difficult to leave the place where they feel safest.

And, eventually, they must all spread their wings and fly.

With his ever-inventive art, Caldecott winner Mordicai Gerstein stretches the boundaries of the traditional picture book, here using speech balloons to show all the characters talking at the same time and energetic pen-and-watercolor illustrations in this celebration of growing up.

 

Leaving the Nest is a 2008 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A gentle and deceptively simple story." —Starred, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Gerstein's realistic illustrations set the backyard stage and choreograph the frenzied acts of the drama, adding touches of humor without diminishing the tension. Good for listeners and beginning readers alike."—Booklist

"Teeming with hilarious mishap and activity . . . Guaranteed to pump self-confidence in wee ones about to leave the nest." —Kirkus Reviews

"[A] cherry ode to adventurousness. Exhilarating." —The Horn Book

"Heartening as well as thematically and artistically assured." — School Library Journal, April 2007

Publishers Weekly
Four stories about a baby bluejay, kitten, girl and baby squirrel converge in this picture-book drama. Readers follow the connected story threads via cartoon-like thought balloons to make sense out of the resulting mayhem. Initially, the characters often speak to themselves rather than to each other, and the short soliloquies can make for a rather disjointed plot, as if one were listening to four radio stations at the same time. In Gerstein's light-filled, full-spread illustrations, the speech bubbles also carry the story's narrative. Thus, several squirrels awkwardly share one bubble with a text that says, " 'What a silly kitten!' laugh all the squirrels," and the entire cast shares one that reads, " 'Baby Jay is flying!' shouts everyone." Gerstein (The Man Who Walked Between the Towers) cleverly includes characters who have reached different stages of "leaving the nest." Baby Squirrel is just old enough to watch the action but not to join in, and the curious kitten doesn't even know what "outside" means. The girl has left the nest but sometimes needs her mother's help, and the bluejay is too terrified to fly at first. At times the plot grows so complicated that 12 speech bubbles appear on a single spread. The format may be too confusing for novice readers, but the unfolding drama will likely hold readers' interest. Ages 3-6. (Mar.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The world can be a scary place when you're little and heading out on your own for the first time. Uncertain about leaving his safe nest, a baby blue jay tentatively flaps and flutters his wings, a little girl experimentally rides her bike by herself, a curious kitten ventures into the backyard and a baby squirrel watches as an amazing chain reaction of events brings these fledging adventurers together. When baby jay falls, the kitten pounces, the girl flies off her bike trying to rescue the jay and baby jay's mother freaks out. The little girl climbs a ladder to return the traumatized baby jay to his nest, but she's afraid to climb back down. Meanwhile, the nosy kitten gets stuck in the tree, triggering another rescue. Teeming with hilarious mishap and activity, the colorful illustrations simultaneously show the very different perspectives of baby jay, the girl, the kitten and the squirrel as they successfully venture forth into the big wide backyard world. Guaranteed to pump self-confidence in wee ones about to leave the nest. (Picture book. 3-6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374343699
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 2/20/2007
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 3 - 6 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.85 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Mordicai Gerstein

Mordicai Gerstein is the author and illustrator of The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, winner of the Caldecott Medal, and has had four books named New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year. Gerstein was born in Los Angeles in 1935. He remembers being inspired as a child by images of fine art, which his mother cut out of Life magazine, and by children’s books from the library: “I looked at Rembrandt and Superman, Matisse and Bugs Bunny, and began to make my own pictures.”

 

He attended Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, and then got a job in an animated cartoon studio that sent him to New York, where he designed characters and thought up ideas for TV commercials. When a writer named Elizabeth Levy asked him to illustrate a humorous mystery story about two girls and a dog, his book career began, and soon he moved on to writing as well as illustrating. “I’m still surprised to be an author,” he says. “I wonder what I’ll write next?” Gerstein lives in Westhampton, Massachusetts.

Biography

Mordicai Gerstein has always been an artist. As a child, he enjoyed painting and eventually graduated from art school in Los Angeles. He continued painting in New York City and supported himself and his family for 25 years by designing and directing animated television commercials. He says, "I had always loved cartoons, especially Bugs Bunny, and I found I enjoyed making animated films. Even a 30-second commercial involved drawing and painting, storytelling, not to mention actors, music, and sound effects."

During the 1960s, Gerstein made several films that received critical acclaim. In 1966, The Room won the Award of the Film Clubs of France at the International Festival for Experimental Film, and in 1968, The Magic Ring won a CINE Golden Eagle.

His career took a dramatic turn when he met children's author Elizabeth Levy in 1970. He has illustrated her Something Queer Is Going On chapter books ever since, and it was Levy and her editor who encouraged Gerstein to write a book on his own. His debut came in 1983 with Arnold of the Ducks, the story of a young boy who gets lost in the wild and is raised by ducks. The New York Times hailed Gerstein's freshman effort as one of the year's best children's books, and he went on to write two more volumes exploring the theme of feral childhood. In 1998 he released The Wild Boy, a picture book based on the true story of a young 18th-century French boy who was found living in the woods and was put on display as an oddity, only to escape and be captured again years later. That same year, Gerstein released Victor, a young adult novel about the same boy.

Gerstein tells the story is of a Tibetan woodcutter who is given a choice between reincarnation or heaven in The Mountains of Tibet, which received the distinction of being one of 1987's ten best illustrated books of the year, according to The New York Times. Although the book is written for kids around age seven, Gerstein approaches the subject of death with a bold, sensitive plot and elegant illustrations. Spirituality is a major theme in many of Gerstein's books. He has interpreted tales from the Bible in Jonah and the Two Great Fish (1997), Noah and the Great Flood (1999), and Queen Esther the Morning Star (2001). Other titles such as The Seal Mother (1986), The Story of May (1993), and The Shadow of a Flying Bird (1994) also express Gerstein's reverential awe for the world.

Young readers can also stretch their imaginations with Gerstein's more playful books. Vocabulary is fun in The Absolutely Awful Alphabet (1999), where the letter P is actually a particularly putrid predator! Bedtime Everybody! (1996) has a young girl's stuffed animals planning a bedtime picnic. Behind the Couch (1996) takes readers on an exciting caper into an unknown world of grazing dust balls, Lost Coin Hill and the Valley of the Stuffed Animals. In Stop Those Pants (1998), a boy is forced to play hide-and-seek with his clothes as he gets ready for the day. Gerstein pays tribute to American composer Charles Ives in What Charlie Heard (2002), the story of a boy's unique talent for interpreting all the sounds of daily life.

Another biographical picture book, The Man Who Walked Between the Towers (2003) tells the story of Philippe Petit, the daredevil who walked across a tightrope suspended between New York City's World Trade Center towers in 1974. The book won the Caldecott Medal in 2004, and parents have praised the book as an invaluable tool for talking to their children about the events of 9/11.

Many of Gerstein's children's books are destined to be classics. His style of writing and illustration brings each of his stories to life, shows a passion for adventure, and relishes the joy that comes from understanding the mysteries of the world.

Good To Know

Despite a successful career illustrating children's books, the first book Gerstein wrote, Arnold of the Ducks, was turned down by seven publishers. Eventually, The New York Times called it one of the best children's books of the year.

Gerstein was inspired to write The Mountains of Tibet after reading The Tibetan Book of the Dead.

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    1. Hometown:
      Northhampton, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 25, 1935
    2. Place of Birth:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Education:
      Chouinard Institute of Art
    2. Website:

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