Today at the Bluebird Cafe: A Branchful of Birds


It's all-you-can-eat
at the Bluebird Café,
A grasshopper-katydid-cricket buffet,
with berries and snails
and a bluebottle fly,
a sip of the lake
and a bite of the sky.

A world of birds unfolds in ...

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It's all-you-can-eat
at the Bluebird Café,
A grasshopper-katydid-cricket buffet,
with berries and snails
and a bluebottle fly,
a sip of the lake
and a bite of the sky.

A world of birds unfolds in twenty-two vivid poems that capture the unique personalities of birds from backyard blue jays to toucans and cockatoos. Come sweep through the sky with an eagle, compare table manners with a vulture, and mock a mockingbird — if you dare!

Debora Ruddell's poems are funny and thoughtful, silly and sweet. Joan Rankin's delightful pictures enchant the eye and tickle the funny bone. There is something for everyone who flies through the pages of this brilliantly birdbrained book.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A terrific introduction to poetry, with a smile attached." — Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

"Ruddell demonstrates a passion for winged creatures that readers may well find palpable and infectious." — Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

Publishers Weekly
This collection of poems, with its lyrical text and highly detailed illustrations, is an ode to our fine-feathered friends. Newcomer Ruddell demonstrates a passion for winged creatures that readers may well find both palpable and infectious. Each poem pays homage to a particular bird, incorporating its unique characteristics, such as the loon's high-pitched cry ("A wail. A chuckle. A shriek at the moon./ You pull up your covers. You hope it's a loon") or the great horned owl's "puffed-up chest in a fancy vest." While Ruddell has clearly done her homework-the poems highlight the familiar backyard feeder cardinal and blue jay, as well as the more elusive hoopoe and ibis-her voice never assumes an authoritative pitch. Rather, her tone remains playful and often humorous throughout (e.g., a reference to the woodpecker's "aftertaste/ of bark"). Standout images include the title poem's hot spot, where you can sample "a sip of lake and a bite of the sky," and the delicious verse of "The Cockatoo," which is likened to "one of the those wedding cakes/ with frosting swoops and coconut flakes." Rankin's lush watercolor renderings of the birds in action convey an impressive range, from a realistic depiction of a hummingbird hidden among long-stemmed honeysuckles to the fantastical setting for the swan ("Fairy-tale bird on a moonlit pond, pulled by stars or a magic wand"). Ages 4-10. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Jennie DeGenaro
It is hard to believe this fascinating book, with interesting and humorous poems, is the first book the author has written for children. We hope she writes many more. The charming illustrations are rendered in watercolor; this gives the bird book a unique appearance. The poems are funny and have a rhythm that most children will not be able to resist. The reader, or caregiver, will no doubt be asked to read and discuss the poems many times. Children who can read will want to read and re-read the clever poems while looking at the interesting pictures. The first poem ends with the line, "A sip of the lake and a bite of the sky," ensuring the reader that the book has much to offer. Children rarely hear enough poetry, or rhyming words, which will help them to learn their language as well as learn to read. Each poem is about a different bird, and each bird has something whimsical and unusual about it. The poem about swans starts, "Fairy-tale bird on a moonlit pond, pulled by stars or a magic wand," making children and adults want to finish reading it. The interesting poems about birds and the attractive illustrations will make this an winning addition to any library.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4
"It's all-you-can-eat at the Bluebird Café,/a grasshopper-katydid-cricket buffet,/with berries and snails and a bluebottle fly,/a sip of the lake and a bite of the sky." The 21 poems that follow, each presented along with a single- or double-page illustration, address characteristics of different birds. Some entries are humorous, such as "The Woodpecker" ("If you think that his life is a picnic,/a seesawing day at the park,/I ask you just once to consider/the aftertaste/of bark"). Others are more thoughtful, such as "The Eagle" ("She rides the sky like she owns the sun,/on a sea of air and light-/surfing, skimming, rising high,/then sweeping low and tight") or "The Swan" ("Fairy-tale bird on a moonlit pond,/pulled by stars or a magic wand…"). All of the poems contain clever imagery and scan well. Rankin's watercolors have soft, muted tones and add charm, humor, and elegance to the offerings. The lighthearted paintings, sometimes realistic and sometimes more fanciful, depict delightful scenes of animals and children interacting.
—Grace OliffCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Ruddell's debut features 22 delightfully diverse poems taking a new view of various feathered friends. Subtitling her collection, "A Branchful of Birds," she covers a wide spectrum. There's the predictable woodpecker and owl, blue jay and cardinal, but also ibis, bobolink, vulture ("A Vulture's Guide to Good Manners") and many other less common birds. Similarly, variety reigns in the verse and approach to each subject. Lyrical imagery fills the paeans to the swan and the eagle; "Hoopoe Voodoo" is a model of wordplay drollery ("You people who pooh-pooh the hoopoe"), and "Toucan Tour Guide" depicts an adventure in Peru (in a canoe). Rankin's watercolors use a muted palette, and in nearly every case, smartly spotlight the subject bird with additional artistic detail. Her sense of humor matches Ruddell's perfectly, depicting the birds arriving at the Bluebird Cafe dressed in top hats or fedoras and "Good Old Puffin" defying the cold in beak-warmer and knitted cap. A refreshing step up from nursery rhyme and a terrific introduction to poetry, with a smile attached. (Picture book/poetry. 4-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689871535
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • Publication date: 2/27/2007
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,006,171
  • Age range: 4 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah Ruddell

Deborah Ruddell is the author of the celebrated picture books Who Said Coo?, illustrated by Robin Luebs, and A Whiff of Pine, A Hint of Skunk and Today at the Bluebird Cafe, both illustrated by Joan Rankin. Before writing children’s books, she was an art teacher and a graphic designer. Deborah lives in Peoria, Illinois. Visit her at

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