A familiar cumulative rhyme pattern here describes the activities of a pair of wrens from nest construction through incubation and hatching of eggs to the fledging of their offspring.
Nesting birds are a popular picture-book subject, but this appreciative account stands out both for its descriptive language and its evocative illustrations. Those reading aloud will appreciate the regular rhythm, intriguing vocabulary, and deft turns of phrase. Not only does Sonenshine smoothly introduce specific words for the growing chicks (“hatchlings,” “nestlings,” “fledglings,” all clear in context and additionally defined in a glossary at the end), she also uses engaging adjectives: “reptilian charm,” “persnickety burr,” “mirthful song.” There is interesting and appropriate imagery as well: “twigs…cradle the nest,” which will be lined with “moss, softer than suede.” Hunter uses ink and colored pencils on various shades of colored paper to illustrate the process. From vignettes to double-page spreads, these scenes focus on the wrens but also include other animals for observant readers to find; a final spread shows a mouse climbing into the now-empty nest. Following the pattern of the nursery rhyme, the author uses Wren as a proper noun in the repeated phrase “the nest that Wren built,” but in a final page of appended facts she makes clear that both the male and the female are involved in the various steps of the nest-building process.
All in all, a delightfully readable and informative wrendition. (Informational picture book. 4-8)