Wild Birds

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Everywhere --
even in streets and backyards --
there are wild birds.

Swirling through the air,
speckling the treetops,
tiptoeing through the grass,
wild birds are near,
watching you watch them.

During the bright warm days,
they sometimes stay
and share a place with you.

And in winter,
if you care for them,
wild birds may flutter even nearer --
till you feel like a wild one, too.

Wild Birds invites you to look and listen and to enjoy these lively flyers who share this ever-changing world with you.

The birds that glide through the sky, hop through the grass, and sing on the fence gradually come to feed from a child's hand.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Ryder's simple unrhymed verses -- enlivened by Susan Estelle Kwas's colorful drawings of simple shapes edged in black -- follow wild birds through the eyes of a young girl. She is patient and quiet enough to entice birds near her as she feeds the ''stay-at-home birds'' who brave winter snows. — Linnea Lannon
Publishers Weekly
Softly hued backdrops contrast with vividly colored birds that flit and dart across the pages while Ryder's (Mouse Tail Moon) poetic prose beats out a rhythm to match their quick, fluttery movements. "Wild birds dip/ from sky to twig to earth,/ hopping or walking,/ tiptoeing through the grass." Kwas's (A Rumpus of Rhymes: A Book of Noisy Poems) animated watercolors offer varied perspectives of the nearly dozen birds featured. Starlings line telephone wires against a salmon sky at dawn in one spread, while spot illustrations feature images such as a red-winged blackbird squawking at a nervous cat. An unnamed girl with a birdwatching hobby silently witnesses the activity of her feathered friends, from robins and jays to sparrows and geese. Kwas pictures the girl whenever Ryder uses the second person, easing the narrative transition while also offering young readers a chance to step into the girl's shoes. At the book's climax, the girl fills a feeder in winter, and chickadees perch on her hand and hat ("You are holding/ a handful of feathers./ Small feet dance on your mittens./ .../ you feel/ a wild heart beating,/ beating quickly-like yours"). This colorful tribute should take wing with budding ornithologists and nature lovers alike. Ages 4-7. (Mar.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Ryder invites young readers to notice birds flying high or dipping down to tiptoe through the grass. The invitation to "you" becomes a young girl with binoculars and a bird guide who spies baby birds in a porch nest and views wintry crows from her window. Then in the winter, she loads the bird feeder and pauses with seed in her mittened hand, and a bold chickadee lands there while another lands briefly on her hat. The free-verse text is part appreciation and part poesy, the chickadee being "a handful of feathers" whose "small feet dance on your mittens." Illustrator Kwas has cleverly placed and labeled most of the birds the girl sees throughout the months in two strata, framing the CIP data and dedication, but sharp observers will note that she's left out some, like Canada geese and seagulls. The brightly colored illustrations depict a brown-skinned girl with wide-set and fierce eyes, and a stylized, sometimes ironic smile, which may make young readers wonder what emotions are being conveyed here. But the message is clear—feathers are fine and birds are brilliant and wonderful. 2003, HarperCollins,
— Susan Hepler
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-Ryder's simply worded, brief, nonrhyming poetic text urges children to take note of the activities of wild birds around them. She reminds readers that these feathered creatures are everywhere-in the air, in the trees, and on the ground-gliding, tiptoeing, searching for food, and protecting their young. Amid the activity, 11 varieties of birds (identified only on the copyright/dedication spread) are depicted and a young girl dressed in hot pink, orange, red, purple, and blue is shown gazing through binoculars, sitting in a tree branch, peering into a nest, looking out a window, filling a feeder, making snow angels, and lying in bed dreaming of flying with her feathered friends. The brightly colored paintings are eye-catching. While the illustrations are stylized and often flat, the birds shown in the variety of outdoor scenes are detailed enough to clearly represent their species. Girl, birds, trees, and buildings are outlined in black to make them stand out. An additional title for most collections, this well-designed book may delight youngsters if an adult makes the effort to reinforce its simple lessons about observing nature.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Ryder (Mouse Tail Moon, 2002, etc.) follows a fledgling birder as she watches and cares for birds in the wild. Ambience rather than identification is her goal, so she endeavors to catch a little bit of each bird’s personality: starlings creeping about in the grass, finches fluttering as they take a bath, sparrows mobbing power lines like so many bleacher bums. An effort is made to convey some ornithological information in passing--what foods certain birds eat, which birds migrate south, which will stay for the winter--and Kwas’s (A Rumpus of Rhymes, 2001, etc.) color-shot art is particularly deliberate when it comes to the birds themselves, though more stylistic when it comes to the people and architecture. The staccato prose works well enough when speaking of the birds--"Ever-so-hungry birds watch your shadow slowly stretching on the ground. They see you fill the feeder with sweet seeds, then move away"--but the same cannot be said when it tries to catch the wonder of flight, when it gets all too whiffy and fails to hold: "They flicker here and there between leaf and leaf, between earth and sky. Wild birds take the high path over your head under the clouds." Still, there is enough sustaining natural imagery here to launch more than a few young birders. (Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060277383
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/1/2003
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.31 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

"My mother's voice filled our home with spirit and warmth," says award-winning author Joanne Ryder. "Sometimes when her friends would call, I'd answer the phone. 'Why, you sound just like your mother,' they'd often say. And I thought that was the nicest compliment." Joanne Ryder has written many picture books for children, including My Father's Hands. She lives in Pacific Grove, California, with her husband, Laurence Yep.

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