Reviews for Birds

Booklist Reviews 2009 January #1
*Starred Review* Created by a husband-and-wife team, this delightful picture book bridges the space between concept books and longer narrative stories. An unseen narrator hears birds singing through an open window and looks out to see birds that represent concepts, such as color, shape, size, and number. The story becomes more sophisticated as it progresses. The narrator s questions about birds open an exploration into more abstract, organic concepts about the natural environment: "If birds made marks with their tail feathers when they flew, think what the sky would look like," for example. At the story s end, the now-visible narrator, having imagined herself as a bird throughout the book, is back at her window, singing. Henkes spare, direct words have a lyrical magic, while Dronzek s bright acrylic paintings, in saturated primary color and heavy black outlines, reflect the text s plain elegance while carrying an exuberant energy all their own. One particularly memorable spread shows a large flock of black birds filling the sky in elegant trajectories of flight. Together, the words and pictures create a book that will enchant preschool audiences again and again.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #2
This is a book about bird watching, but it contains nothing about binoculars or life lists or the plumage of a herring gull in its second winter. Instead, in the voice of a young child, Henkes muses on birds, their colors and sizes, their movements and mysteries. Words and pictures perform a perfectly choreographed dance here. Dronzek's acrylic paintings, one part naive, one part William Steig, focus and expand the plain, poetic text. On a double-page spread of a late autumn tree blossoming with crows, the text reads, "If there are lots of birds in one tree and they all fly away at the same time, it looks like the tree yelled..." We turn the page, and the force of the bird explosion throws the word SURPRISE! -- bold and black and in type more than an inch tall -- high into the air. In the final pages we meet our narrator, staring out her window, joining a robin in song. We have moved from bird watching through bird wondering to bird being. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 January #2
A precocious girl's reverie begins when the birds' morning songs drift through her window. Initially, she reflects on their vastly varied physical attributes; her thoughts then turn to the birds' relationship with their physical environment, both collectively and individually. Powerful images reflect their beauty. "Sometimes in winter, a bird in a tree looks like one red leaf left over." While the girl wishes to fly like birds she enjoys, she is encouraged by the commonality that unites them: "I can sing!" Dronzek's wavy black lines accentuate the birds' natural radiance; acrylic smudges exude a hazy glow. Dark bursts of color explode against the sky in a striking double-page spread as a flock takes flight en masse; the word "surprise" above outstretched branches reflects the thought with bold uneven letters. Spare language enhances the story's quiet essence; the girl's musings change abruptly, with a child's mercurial speed, resulting in a grounded offering that begins to fly but doesn't fully soar. (Picture book. 3-6) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2008 December #3

Husband-and-wife team Henkes and Dronzek (Oh!) record random thoughts about birds, enlivened by vignettes of thickly outlined bird shapes feathered with primary-school paintbox colors. Observations as spare as haiku--"Sometimes, in winter, a bird in a tree looks like one red leaf left over"--are pictured wistfully; here, a cardinal perches, leaf-like, on a high branch of a leafless tree. The appeal throughout is Henkes's ability to channel the way young children think ("If birds made marks with their tail feathers when they flew, think what the sky would look like") and see ("If there are lots of birds in one tree and they all fly away at the same time, it looks like the tree yelled, 'SURPRISE!' "). Although the artwork most often follows the text's lead, richer moments come when Dronzek steps forward and does the imagining. "If clouds were birds, the sky would look like this," Henkes writes; with a dry, loosely wielded brush, Dronzek paints bird-shaped silhouettes of clouds tinted the same color as the setting sun they soar over. A kind of book of meditations for the very young, its reflective tone and peaceful illustrations make this an excellent bedtime choice. Ages 2-5. (Mar.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2009 February

PreS-K--This brief introduction to birds focuses on such basic features as their different colors and sizes. Soft acrylic paintings that appear as spreads, vignettes, and framed scenes match a text that perfectly conveys the young narrator's fascination with the birds in her environment. "Once I saw seven birds on the telephone wire. They didn't move and they didn't move and they didn't move. I looked away for just a second…." Three lines of identically positioned birds on wires appear with the text across the spread. Then a page turn reveals a thick, black, empty wire stretched across a stark white spread along with the words "and they were gone." The youngster imagines what the sky would look like if the birds could make marks with their tails and how bird-clouds would look during the day and at night. She can't really fly like the birds, but the final page demonstrates one way in which she can imitate them. The child voice in this charming story is just right and will resonate with the very youngest children. And the little girl's musings can encourage more "what if" conversations that will spark their imaginations.--Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT

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