I’m usually trying to pair unique books with each other, whether it’s for story times or simply to promote them together on a display. Two books published last year both have wonderful illustrations and complement each other with their subjects.
Author/Illustrator: Lita Judge
Publisher/Date: Flash Point, an imprint of
Roaring Brook Press, c2012.
Author: Stephanie Spinner
Illustrator: Meilo So
Publisher/Date: Alfred A. Knopf,
an imprint of Random House Children’s Books,
a division of Random House, c2012.
On a completely unrelated note… “Look Ma, COLUMNS!” So pretty. Ahem, regaining my train of thought…
While I knew about Koko the gorilla who was taught sign-language, I was not familiar with Alex, which stands for Avian Learning EXperiment. In Alex the Parrot Stephanie Spinner goes into detail about the raising and training of Alex, and African grey parrot that eventually would go on to learn hundreds of words and concepts taught to children in kindergarten. He would combine words to make sentences, answer questions, and compare items by their shape or color. No one expected these abilities from a bird with a brain the size of a walnut, but Alex proved them wrong. Spinner also talks about the lengths that trainer Irene Pepperberg took to avoid acusations that the bird was simply mimicing her or responding to unconscious cues.
As a comparison with what other birds do naturally, pair it with the book Bird Talk by Lita Judge. You might have to either explain or alter the language for younger audiences when she says “attract a mate”, “fledgling” or “species”, but she does include a glossary at the end to assist with that task. There are over two dozen of introductory exmples of birds around the world, varying from the common robin, blue jay and crows to the more exotic Scarlet Macaws, Blue Bird of Paradise, and yes even the African Grey Parrot. It does seem that the subtitle might be viewed as a misnomer, since the book doesn’t just cover vocalizations, but also explains how different types of birds behave when defending their flocks and about half the book is mating/courship behaviors. Overall though, the pictures are engaging and well-drawn and the listing in the back makes an easy reference of where you can find those species featured.
Maybe slightly more detailed than is ideal for classroom sharing, the books overall would both go over well for kids with birds on the brain, and I would hand them together to anyone who’s hearing the call of the wild outside their window.