BIRDS by Kevin Henkes and illustrated by Laura Dronzek

February 25, 2009 at 6:45 pm Leave a comment

birdsIt should probably not surprise us that Kevin Henkes, himself a major luminary in children’s literature, should be married to someone else who’s a genius (though it does seem a little inequitable to have so much talent concentrated under one roof…sort of like the Bach family…) The good news is that when they collaborate their work rises to a new level.  This simple book about birds reminds me of A TREE IS NICE with its understated observations:  “In the morning, I hear birds singing through the open window” which become more expansive as the book progresses:  “Once I saw seven birds on the telephone wire./They didn’t move/and they didn’t move/and they didn’t move./I looked away for just a second…/and they were gone.”  It reads like poetry:  “Sometimes, in winter,/a bird in a tree/looks like one red/leaf left over.” But it’s poetry a child could have written and to which they respond with recognition and joy in the wonder of the world.

As we’d expect, the text and color-drenched acrylics are exceptionally attuned.  Check out the pages where the seven birds sit on the wire until the page turn, when they—DON’T!  Or the spectacular two-page sequence of double-spreads showing a tree filled with dark bird silhouettes until, “SURPRISE!” they all take off at once.  Sure to elicit the same thrilled response at story time as the event would cause in real life.  Absolutely superb.

Highly, highly, highly recommended.

Miriam Lang Budin (Chappaqua)

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