PreS-Gr 1—Singing is a fanciful concept when applied to some of the 14 animals of air, water, field, and forest introduced in this poetic compendium. Though they're depicted realistically in their natural settings, descriptions of their behavior range from realistic to suggestive or imaginative. "Why do I sing in a big twilight chorus/That fills up the wetlands and pastures and forests?/A sure sign of spring and romance in the bogs,/The riotous ribbits of Pacific Tree Frogs." Highlighting the meadowlark, the spotted owl, the red-winged blackbird, and the tundra swan, the quatrains set on double-page landscapes also touch on fin whales, Arctic wolves, honeybees, and conclude with children by an evening campsite. The loon sings "in a wild, eerie cry," and the Roosevelt bull elk has "a strange, wild call" that "rises high and bugles a challenge far and wide." The western rattlesnakes make little noise—"Seldom using their rattles, they would rather just lie still." Some animals, such as the starfish, might be singing "a song we can't know." The rhyme scheme moves along nicely in terms sometimes more meaningful to adult readers than to youngsters, but the lovely scenes and animal portraits will be much enjoyed by those young children who like to talk their way through picture books. Gabriel's luscious pastel work on heavily textured paper will surely invite touching and some lingering viewing.—Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
A wolf's howl. A loon's haunting cry. What do they communicate? Seeing a title like Why Do I Sing? Animal Songs of the Pacific Northwest, readers might expect to discover the possible meanings of various animal sounds. Instead, the author dreamily imagines. A cricket's song, she posits, "is of summer and warmth everywhere." Each of the 14 Northwest creatures' vocalizations is described in a four-line stanza, including--oddly--the ever-silent starfish: "As the STARFISH are washed by the tide's ebb and flow, / They just might be singing a song we can't know. / We don't see or hear the world the same way / As so many living things near us each day." The poetry is often stumblingly cumbersome, as in the marmot stanza: "In wintertime MARMOTS sleep in dens under rock piles, / By summer, high peaks sound with their whistles, heard for miles." In a cozy denouement, humans sing around a campfire, "for joy." Gabriel's handsome, atmospheric watercolor paintings on textured paper capture scenic panoramas or zoom in to render animals larger than life, from honeybee to meadowlark. While this is a lovely visual tribute to Pacific Northwest animals, the stilted verse makes it a disappointing follow-up to the team's award-winning Where Do I Sleep? A Pacific Northwest Lullaby (2008). (Picture book/poetry. 2-7)
Humans aren’t the only creatures with the urge to sing. Blomgren describes the wild songs of marmots, fin whales, meadowlarks, loons and others, imagining what might compel them. Of the starfish, she writes delicately: “They just might be singing a song we can’t know. / We don’t see or hear the world the same way / As so many living things near us each day.” Gabriel’s big, rough-textured watercolors give a good sense of the particular beauty of the region.
—The New York Times
This tender pair [with Where Do I Sleep?] should make lovely bedtime additions. Gentle verses describe the sleeping and singing habits of various animals. Each of the illustrations contains the name of the animal in question. Soft and sweet yet beautifully textured, the images are lovely and will have readers poring over them.
—School Library Journal
Gabriel’s handsome, atmospheric watercolor paintings on textured paper capture scenic panoramas or zoom in to render animals larger than life, from honeybee to meadowlark.
Celebrate the sounds of Pacific Northwest animals, from howling wolves to buzzing honeybees. With lively lyrics and delightful illustrations, this rhythmic family read-aloud book explains calls of the wild through poetic verse.
—Alaska Airlines Magazine
The question, "Why do I sing?" is answered in short four-line rhymes by 15 resident species of the Pacific Northwest. Cheery two-page illustrations of the creatures accompany each joyful celebration of the call of the wild... Easily shared in read-aloud rhyme and informative watercolor illustrations..."
—Puget Sound Council for the Review of Children's Books
If you’ve ever hiked or camped in the Northwest, chances are you’ve heard owls hooting, marmots whistling or maybe even wolves howling. This book, written from each animal’s perspective, is a combination of rhythmic verse and beautiful illustrations that will captivate you as well as your kiddos as you learn what gives animals their voice. Author and illustrator team Jennifer Blomgren and Andrea Gabriel, both Washingtonians, come together to bring you a book that will delight and entertain your whole brood.
Why Do I Sing? Animal Songs of the Pacific Northwest has amazing illustrations with stories that take you through the sounds of the Pacific Northwest. From the Meadowlark, to the Spotted Owl and the Whistling Swan. This book is beautifully written. ...It is a great book to sit and read together as a family.
Animal songs – so unique, so poignant, and so mysterious. In this beautifully-illustrated book, author Jennifer Blomgren explains the voices of animals and birds through human cadence of poetry. Excellent read-aloud book from birth on up.
—AK on the GO
Author Jennifer Blomgren and illustrator Andrea Gabriel, who previously collaborated for Where Do I Sleep? A Pacific Northwest Lullaby and Where Would I Be in an Evergreen Tree?, bring to the world of children’s nature books a third title that is just as warm, fun, and visually appealing.
—Portland Book Review
The pictures in this book are lovely, and the text that goes along with it is simple, but still manages to teach about the animals and their habitats.
—Growing My Kids Reviews
The painterly illustrations and rhyming prose make it a visual delight for children...
With rhyming verse and beautiful paintings, the book celebrates the Northwest’s noisy natural inhabitants, from the "long, low voices" of fin whales to the bugles of a Roosevelt bull elk.
—The Seattle Times
Narrated in verse, this captivating picture book for children three years of age and older introduces a number of creatures that buzz, chirp, howl and hoot. ...This volume offers a fun way to explore some of the animals of the Pacific Northwest. Its watercolors by Andrea Gabriel are big and bold, thus complementing the rhymed and informative narrative that Port Townsend, Washington, resident Jennifer Blomgren provides.
Why Do I Sing? Animal Songs of the Pacific Northwest is a beautiful introduction to many of the amazing animals that live in the Pacific Northwest. …The stunning illustrations are captivating and the story flows as the words are read rhythmically. This lovely story is a wonderful way to teach children about the wonders of the natural world and the critters that live in their backyards.
—In the Know Mom