A boy learns that his beloved, outgrown sweater can have a greater purpose in this gentle story of caring for a baby bird by Nightengale (What Fragrance Is the Moon?, 2014) and illustrated by Bonsteel (Charlie’s Escape from Home, 2017).
Even though Robert is too big for his soft red sweater, he loves it. On his sixth birthday, he jumps out of bed to count bird nests: six, just like him. Robert also discovers a fallen baby bird, so he uses his red sweater to carry it home. Robert helps the bird grow, letting it use his sweater for a nest. When the bird learns to fly, Robert takes the bird and the sweater nest outside to set it free; the next morning, the bird has returned to its family, and all six nests have soft red yarn woven into them. Bonsteel’s mostly black-and-white cartoon illustrations feature touches of red, highlighting the sweater, the robin’s red breast, and occasionally color in Robert’s cheeks, giving the images flare through that emphasis and through her detailed grayscale shading. Nightengale’s accessible vocabulary and simple sentence structure make the prose approachable for newly independent readers, who will empathize with Robert losing his beloved sweater—and be comforted by its greater purpose. One quibble: There’s a missed opportunity to inform kids that it’s often best to leave baby birds alone.
Young animal lovers will be drawn to this quiet tale of connection between a boy and a baby bird.