Bird Builds a Nest: A First Science Storybook

"It's a beautiful day! Bird is up early--she's got a lot to do." Readers expecting anthropomorphic behavior from this book's titular character might be surprised. After Bird breakfasts on a worm, she gets busy: "Carefully, she pushes a twig into the side of the nest and pulls its end back out. Pushing and pulling, she gets all the twigs in place. She works for hours, fetching and carrying, flying back and forth, pushing and pulling."

Bird Builds a Nest: A First Science Storybook works well as a straightforward narrative that concludes with the toddler-pleasing sight of a nest full of ready-to-hatch eggs. But in his front-of-book note, Martin Jenkins, a conservation biologist when he's not writing fine children's books, nudges adults to give kids a deeper reading experience. "This is a book about a bird, and it is also a book about forces," he explains, and proceeds to equip grown-ups with simple definitions ("Gravity is a force that pulls objects toward one another"). Jenkins's back-of-book "Thinking About Pushing and Pulling" page gives young readers their own intellectual prod. For one: "Heavy things are hard for Bird to move. Can you name three things that are too heavy for you to move?"

It's become de rigueur to introduce little kids to science concepts, and Bird Builds a Nest is among those with standout illustrations. In fact, Richard Jones's nimble mixed-media compositions, which have the look of cut-paper tableaux, are downright suitable for framing. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author

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