My First Book of Birds / Birds

My First Book of Birds
Illustrated by Zoë Ingram
Walker Books

This is a smashing little book that introduces to youngsters twenty or so birds that commonly visit our UK gardens.
Such is the quality of Zoë Ingram’s illustrations that as well as taking delight in them, little ones can use them to help in avian identification.
After an opening spread explaining that the birds are presented in size order as well as talking about conservation status (this is given to each one in the ‘Bird Facts’ window) and feeding, each bird is showcased in a double spread.
The first is the tiny Goldcrest, Europe’s smallest bird, that over winters in Britain while the largest and final bird featured is the omnivorous Magpie that has a wingspan about four times larger than the Goldcrest.
In between are some real beauties including the mellifluous colourful Goldfinch;

the yellow-billed Blackbird and the glossy feathered, bold Starling,

As well as the facts window, each bird has a paragraph about such things as plumage, diet, song; plus there are egg facts and a ‘Did you know?’

Ideal for home use as well as to add to a primary school collection; it’s important that youngsters get acquainted with birds and this is a great starting point.

Birds
Carme Lemniscates
Walker Studio

Not a guide to birds, (although you will doubtless recognise most of those the artist includes but never names); rather, the words are at least in part, the thoughts of a little girl narrator as she moves around the countryside on foot, on her bike or even as a flight of fancy, on the back of a goose.
What starts out as straightforward observation, ‘Some birds are really big. // Others are tiny.’

gives way about half way through to simile and metaphor: ’A bird’s song is like the loving words of a friend. // A happy song that greets us every morning. // And our hearts sing, too, because birds are like good news coming. // Or messages of peace.’

The digitally rendered illustrations are richly coloured, enticing and immediately attractive to little ones, though I do wonder if there’s a slight mismatch between the intended audience for the book and some of the latter part of the child’s narrative.

A book to use with one child or a few, rather than a class I suggest.

They Didn’t Teach THIS in Worm School!

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They Didn’t Teach THIS in Worm School
Simone Lia
Walker Books
Observer and Guardian cartoonist Simone Lia has created a cracking story featuring Marcus – a splendidly resourceful worm, and Laurence, a bird who looks like a chicken but is convinced that he’s a flamingo. An unlikely pairing you might be thinking.
Their initial meeting is decidedly iffy but Marcus manages to convince Laurence that making a slurpy spaghetti-like breakfast of him isn’t the best plan. In response to the worm’s “Are you going to eat me for breakfast?” Laurence replies, “Probably not … It feels funny eating you … now that we’ve had a conversation.” (The bird, by the way, is determined to fly all the way to Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya – his true home, so he thinks – but his map reading skills leave more than a little to be desired.)
After some more chat, a deal is struck. Marcus, with his “funny ideas and marvellous sense of direction” is to act as navigator for the journey and the two of them, having made some preparations, and Marcus has made plans to inform his relations …

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the two appear to be ready – or maybe not quite yet. It looks as though Laurence has rather overdone his packing  …

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Several hours later, with unpacking done and plumbing works re-connected, Marcus is safely (and comfortably) installed in a very soft spot in Laurence’s plumage, they’re on their way heading supposedly in the first instance for Paris.
After a while “lost” might be the best description of where they are but then, having glanced at the cover of his pal’s French guidebook, Marcus identifies The Eiffel Tower …

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Panic over – albeit temporarily.
I could continue telling you what happens but suffice it to say all manner of near tragedies and ‘stewish’ shenanigans occur until eventually it seems they’ve reached their ultimate destination; but have they?

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There are certainly flamingos; but we’re still 50 odd pages short of the end of this hilarious saga so I’ll leave you to make up your own minds and just add that this is a laugh out-loud read, full of wonderfully funny illustrations … and a must read for anyone from around seven especially those with a sense of adventure.

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Take Flight: The Sky Guys & Treats for a T.Rex

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The Sky Guys
Madeleine Rogers and Jason Hook
Button Books
Cleverly conceived and beautifully designed and presented – a simple rhyming text by Jason Hook and strikingly bold illustrations by Madeleine Rogers – combine to make a book that will attract young readers but more than that, one that will keep those readers engaged throughout. It presents basic information about five bird species – the majestic albatross, the elegant flamingo, the wise owl, the guzzling pelican …

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and the tiny hummingbird, each of which is given two double spreads to display itself in all its glory.

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Did you know that an owl’s head can turn to face backwards  – impressive, or that the hummingbird uses its long beak like a drinking straw to sip nectar from flowers?
And if that’s not enough to bring these wonderful creatures to life, inside the back cover is an envelope containing press out templates of the five birds that are easy to make with a bit of folding and sticking (the youngest fingers might need a little adult support). Then once constructed, these can be used, along with the basic scenery, similarly made, to act out the narrative using the inside back cover as a fold-out backdrop.

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What a cool idea for a book that is bound to result in maximum young child-involvement.

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Treats for a T. Rex
Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Lee Wildish
Egmont Books
George embarks on his sixth adventure with his doggie pal, Trixie and he’s hoping to discover a real live T. rex. Off the two fly on a hang-gliding contraption, soaring above cities and far out over oceans to their destination, a volcanic island.

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Thereon Trixie spots what she thinks is a ball but turns out to be a huge dinosaur egg. It’s not the T.rex though, but a baby pterodactyl. This is only the first of their alarming dinosaur encounters; but after some tricky teaching by Trixie, the two friends finally find themselves face to face with the object of their search …

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Can they pull off one more trick or will George and Trixie become the next meal for that hungry T.rex towering above them?
George already has many young fans who follow his adventures eagerly; this latest will please them and likely win him more. There’s plenty going on in Lee Wildish’s bold, bright illustrations to entertain; and the Guillains’ rhyming text is a fun listen to.

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