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Today is a special day. Not only is it the first Day of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count and the last day of our week celebrating children's books about birds for the Year of the Bird, but we have a real treat:  a visit by author Anna Levine with her new picture book about bird migration and some bird-themed activities!

All Eyes on Alexandra by Anna Levine and illustrated by Chiara Pasqualotto

In All Eyes on Alexandra, young Alexandra Crane is terrible at following her family in their flying Vee. She can’t help it that the world is so full of interesting distracting sights! When it's time for the Cranes to migrate to Israel's Hula Valley for the winter, Alexandra is excited but her family is worried. Will Alexandra stay with the group, and what happens if a dangerous situation should arise? Might Alexandra—and the rest of the flock—discover that a bad follower can sometimes make a great leader?

Be sure to visit our sister blog Wrapped in Foil for a more in-depth review and links to upcoming stops on the blog tour.

Bird Migration

All Eyes on Alexandra is a fictional account of a real event, the twice annual migration of millions over birds to and from all the neighboring continents.

The following video shows footage from a proposed documentary about the migration, set to music. What a sight!

Imagine trying to count birds there. What a challenge it would be! On the other hand, it would be easy to fill your Big Year lists with new species.

About Anna

Anna Levine is an award-winning children’s book author. Like Alexandra Crane, the character in her latest picture book, she loves to explore new worlds. Born in Canada, Anna has lived in the US and Europe.  She now lives in Israel, where she writes and teaches.

You don’t have to wing it!  Three bird-themed activities by Anna Levine.

Honk! Bellow! Whoop! Take part in the action.

When Alexandra Crane and her flock arrive at the resting and refueling spot in the Hula Valley they meet storks, falcons, wagtails and pelican and other bird families that honk, bellow and whoop. Now you can join the commotion, just by stepping out into your own backyard.

1. Take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count on February 16-19th. You don’t have to be an expert to join. Step outside for as long as 15 minutes or less and count as many birds as you can.

2. Awaken your senses. Experience birds through sound. Have your child listen and try to note the sounds of different birds. Record the bird song and then see if you can identify which birds they are. The Cornell Lab has a wonderful site (All About Birds Academy) where you can learn about birds and their different calls.

3. Bird beak experiment. Why do some birds have beaks that are long and sharp while others are shaped like a straw? You should have most of these tools around the house for this experiment, scissors, tweezers, chopsticks, a straw, and pliers. Gather the following foods, juice, string cheese, gummy snakes, rice, and pistachios. The idea is to try and match up the best tool for eating the different foods.

You might find that:

  • A hummingbird’s straw-like beak is perfect for drinking juice (or nectar from a flower).
  • The eagle’s scissor-like beak can rip up string cheese like an eagle tears meat.
  • A robin’s beak is perfect for digging out worms from the ground, as precise as picking up gummi worms with chopsticks.
  • A woodpecker’s beak is as sharp as a chisel and used also like a crowbar to pick out insects from dead trees, just like tweezers picking up a grain of rice.
  • And for opening seeds, a cardinal’s beak, just like pliers, is great for cracking open pistachios or seeds.

What about the beak of a curved-bill thrasher?

You can see even more fun ideas from Anna Levine to celebrate birds at Read. Write. Sparkle. Coffee. blog.

Thank you to Anna Levine for stopping by and sharing the wonderful book and activities.

You can find Anna Levine online at --

 

Age Range: 3 - 8 years
Publisher: Kar-Ben Pub (August 1, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1512444391
ISBN-13: 978-1512444391

Don't forget our growing list of books about bird migration at Science Books for Kids.

Disclosure: This book was provided electronically for review. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

 

Thank you for visiting us this week. That concludes our celebration of The Year of the Bird.

2018 was designated as the Year of the Bird (official website). As their final event event of the year, the organizers are calling on people to share their love of birds. To participate, we're going to explore a variety of exciting new children's books about birds this week.

When I heard that this book combined the fantastic photography of Jason Stemple and the crew of National Geographic with the gorgeous words of wife Jane Yolen and daughter Heidi Stemple, I knew it would be amazing.

Fly With Me: A Celebration of Birds through Pictures, Poems, and Stories by Jane Yolen, Heidi E. Y. Stemple, Adam Stemple, and Jason Stemple is a family affair that reveals their remarkable creative abilities and passion for birds. It will take your breath away.

Let's start with the end papers as you open the book. In among the delicate blue silhouettes of a flock of birds trail wisps of words, which are common sayings about birds. Delightful.

Next you encounter the "Contents." They run two pages of small print. You see that you are going to find out what a bird is, the history of birds, state birds, their songs, birds migration, bird records... Don't take too long reading it all because there is much to explore. Delve in.

Each section combines gorgeous photographs with information about birds, either in chunks or as cute circle-shaped sidebars which remind you of nests or eggs. Poems accompany some sections. For example, in the section about feathers:

For keeping warm
and in the air,
for camouflage
or flashy flair...

~ Heidi E. Y. Stemple

I would keep going with the review, but I just want to keep reading and looking at the book. Oh, here's a section about the Audubon Christmas Bird Count that I mentioned on Monday. Now I found out that the American Woodcock is the slowest flying bird. There's Harry Potter's owl Hedwig and a list of movies featuring birds. Oh my, I can't wait to show this to my kid.

You get the idea. Fly With Me is a must have for ornithologists young and old. It would work equally well as a resource in the classroom or as a treasured gift to a friend who loves nature. Enjoy a copy today!

Activity Suggestion

Make your own personal scrapbook to celebrate birds. Either collect or make bird illustrations, take or find bird photographs, write bird poems, gather bird stories, and research bird facts. Paste or tape them into a notebook or make a scrapbook. Update it regularly.

Age Range: 4 - 8 years  All ages!
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books (October 16, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1426331819
ISBN-13: 978-1426331817

Don't forget our growing list of books for young birdwatchers at Science Books for Kids.

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher's representative for review. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

2018 was designated as the Year of the Bird (official website). As their final event event of the year, the organizers are calling on people to share their love of birds. To participate, we're going to explore a variety of exciting new children's books about birds this week.

So many great children's books about birds and birdwatching have been published this year that today we are going to double up.

For the youngest reader we have Bird Builds a Nest by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Richard Jones (nominated for a 2018 Cybils Award.)

In a clever juxtaposition, this picture book is not only about how birds build nests, but as the author explains on page 2, it is also about the physics of forces.

 Turning around and around, pushing with her whole body, she makes a snug little cup, smooth and soft on the inside.

In the back matter there are questions to ask about pushing and pulling and a simple activity suggestion.

Bird Builds a Nest is a perfect choice for fledgling scientists and birdwatchers alike.

Activity Suggestion:

Build a child-sized nest (our post from 2008!)

Age Range: 4 - 6 years
Publisher: Candlewick (January 17, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0763693464
ISBN-13: 978-0763693466

Our second choice, Warblers & Woodpeckers: A Father-Son Big Year of Birding by Sneed B. Collard III, is for adults and older kids.

Have you heard of the birdwatching event known as Big Year? It is an informal challenge associated with the American Birding Association where birders try to see and or hear as many different species of birds as possible within a single year.

Sneed B. Collard III and his adolescent son Braden did a Big Year challenge in 2016. To try to experience as many birds as possible, they traveled to birding hot spots throughout North and South America. Warblers & Woodpeckers is a record of their many adventures. From encounters with "killer" bees to spotting a Northern pygmy owl in the pines, their travels will keep readers enthralled.

The book contains some color photographs of the birders and some of the birds they found. You can see much more at their Father Son Birding blog.

Warblers & Woodpeckers might just inspire young adults to try their own big adventure, whether it is a Big Year or a another challenge that comes from their own interests. Check out a copy today.

 

Activity Suggestion

Keep a journal of your own birding experiences.

 

Previous titles by Sneed B. Collard III reviewed here at Growing With Science:

Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Mountaineers Books (August 17, 2018)
ISBN-10: 168051136X
ISBN-13: 978-1680511369

Don't forget our growing list of books for young birdwatchers at Science Books for Kids.

Disclosure: These books were provided for review. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can show you cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.