When two blue jays build a nest on a third-floor balcony of his New York City home, Berendt documents their work and the progress of their three eggs and chicks, right to the first fledgling's surprising first journey.
The author's 4"x6" snapshots, with scalloped white borders, are mounted one or two to a page above or alongside a short paragraph of exclamation-point littered text. These images, some perhaps taken through a window, are not always very clear. His text ascribes human emotions and actions to these birds and often talks down to his audience. “And what do you think he gave them to eat? Bugs and worms!” He also presumes gender, assuming it’s the male who chose the nest site, began the construction and does the feeding, though he admits at the end that the only time he could tell them apart was when the female laid the eggs. He describes the birds’ actions as if he were talking to grandchildren, using a first person conversational voice and occasional direct address. This is a first title for children by the city-dwelling author of best-selling adult nonfiction. Exciting as this encounter with nature was for him, he hasn’t translated it into a successful children’s book; a better choice is Pamela F. Kirby’s What Bluebirds Do (2009), with its large, sharp photographs, objective description and helpful end matter.
Subpar photography plus patronizing text keep this one from flying. (Picture book. 3-6)