In this carefully planned book, readers simultaneously learn key facts about a variety of birds, absorb different forms of poetry and revel in beautiful artwork.
The first double-page spread features ruby-throated hummingbirds flitting across a landscape lush with coral and green vines. The poetry appropriately flits as well, reflecting the words that speak of the busy way in which these birds conduct their lives. Each ensuing set of pages also names a bird in bold black print at the top of the verso or the recto, then presents a poem revealing at least one characteristic of that bird. The gouache artwork perfectly matches the varying tones and forms of the poetry, which ranges from the humorous one-sentence poem for the macaw (“Who / spilled / the / paint?”) to literary accolades for the albatross to philosophizing about the Andean condor’s dark secrets. There is wordplay too, as in this observation of a crow’s voice: “pure caw-caw-phony.” The power of good poetry glides along through the final three pages, which note that the bald eagle doesn’t know the term “bird of prey / though he circles like a prayer // on the rising columns / of the shining, / sun-warmed air.”
From the graceful cranes flying across its wraparound cover to the single feather on the title page to the soaring eagle at the end, this book astounds. (Picture book/poetry. 4-10)