Worried because the heron in the park looks grumpy, Hamish tries a variety of ways to please it, only to decide that perhaps herons can't smile.
This slight story has a not-too-subtle message. Heron-watcher Hamish and his family, neighbors and schoolmates clean and beautify the park, making it a more pleasant place for everyone. Part of a picture-book series with explicitly Scottish themes or content, this gentle lesson nevertheless makes a smooth Atlantic crossing. Great blue herons are grumpy around the world, and there are many parks in this country that could also use some extra attention. There are a few expressions, such as “bin bags” and “biscuit crumbs” that may puzzle young American readers or listeners, and the football Hamish plays with is clearly a soccer ball, but the meanings are clear in context. With only a line or two of text on the page and plenty of repetition, this is ideal for beginning readers. O'Byrne's illustrations have the look of pen-and-ink sketches with watercolor. Ranging from vignettes to double-page spreads, they both support and add to the narrative, showing the heron in a variety of poses and the park gradually becoming more beautiful and more populated.
As read-aloud or read-alone, a nice addition to the caring-for-our environment collection. (Picture book. 3-7)