WILD BIRDS

Ryder (Mouse Tail Moon, 2002, etc.) follows a fledgling birder as she watches and cares for birds in the wild. Ambience rather than identification is her goal, so she endeavors to catch a little bit of each bird’s personality: starlings creeping about in the grass, finches fluttering as they take a bath, sparrows mobbing power lines like so many bleacher bums. An effort is made to convey some ornithological information in passing—what foods certain birds eat, which birds migrate south, which will stay for the winter—and Kwas’s (A Rumpus of Rhymes, 2001, etc.) color-shot art is particularly deliberate when it comes to the birds themselves, though more stylistic when it comes to the people and architecture. The staccato prose works well enough when speaking of the birds—“Ever-so-hungry birds watch your shadow slowly stretching on the ground. They see you fill the feeder with sweet seeds, then move away”—but the same cannot be said when it tries to catch the wonder of flight, when it gets all too whiffy and fails to hold: “They flicker here and there between leaf and leaf, between earth and sky. Wild birds take the high path over your head under the clouds.” Still, there is enough sustaining natural imagery here to launch more than a few young birders. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-027738-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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POPPLETON

The first book in a proposed series of easy readers from the usually reliable Rylant (The Bookshop Dog, p. 1055) is an unqualified flop. Poppleton, dressed in coat, tie, and bowler, tires of city life and moves to a small town. Three stories follow that require neither a small-town setting nor a recent move. In the first, ``Neighbors,'' the limits of friendship are excessively defined when Cherry Sue invites Poppleton over too often, and he sprays her with the garden hose (instead of simply turning down the invitation) in his frustration over the situation. ``The Library'' shows how serious Poppleton is about his library day- -every Monday—as he sits at a table, spreads out his belongings, and reads an adventure. In ``The Pill,'' a sick friend who needs medicine asks Poppleton to disguise his pill in one of the many pieces of cake he consumes, recalling the tale in which Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad try to make some cookies inaccessible, but cannot thwart their own appetites. The stories are unimaginative and poorly plotted, without the taut language and endearing humor of Rylant's Henry and Mudge tales or her Mr. Putter and Tabby books. Teague's scenes of a small town are charming but have no real story in which to take root, and the book is printed on cardboard-weight stock that all but overwhelms the format. (Fiction. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-590-84782-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1996

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An ideal introduction to this familiar waterfowl—readers will enjoy diving right in.

JUST DUCKS!

Mallard ducks catch the attention of an observant young narrator. Join in on her day’s travels to learn a lot about these quacking creatures.

Quacks appear in graduated type from large to small to begin this informational gem. The daily activities of a young girl propel the easy-flowing language full of ducky details. Perfectly placed additional facts in smaller and similar-in-tone text are included on each spread. These seamless complements serve to explain unfamiliar terms such as “preening,” “dabbling” and “upending.” While Davies’ text gently informs, Rubbino’s mixed-media illustrations, done in a subdued palette of watery greens, grays and browns, truly impress. Mama ducks, drakes and ducklings alike hold the focus as they nest, search for food, swim, splash and sleep. The loose and childlike pictures capture essential details: the “secret patch of blue on each wing” and the “cute little curl on their tails.” At the end of the day (and book), readers find “The bridge is quiet, and there’s just the sound of rushing water and the stillness of the night.” But the page turn reveals another morning of “ducks—just ducks, down on the river that flows through the town.”

An ideal introduction to this familiar waterfowl—readers will enjoy diving right in. (index, note) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5936-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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