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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.

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For STEM Friday let's take a look at a beautiful new picture book, On Gull Beach by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Bob Marstall.

In this book, youngsters learn about seagulls and other inhabitants of a Massachusetts beach.

The story follows a young boy as he explores the seashore. Along the way, he spots a sea star. Before he can reach it, however, a seagull picks it up and flies away. Find out what he discovers as he chases the gull along the beach.

Jane Yolen's simple, but expertly-crafted rhyming text and Bob Marstall's exceptional illustrations make a delightful combination. Plus, you can't go wrong with the people of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology backing it.

The back matter includes more detailed information about gulls, other shorebirds, sea stars, and different types of crabs. Included are small color photographs of the different animals, plus QR Codes that will take you to sound files. There is also a sidebar about "How You Can Help Our Beaches and Wildlife."

Young birdwatchers will love On Gull Beach. It would also be a great choice for a trip to the beach, either in real life or in the reader's imagination. Enjoy a copy today!

Age Range: 4 - 11 years
Publisher: Cornell Lab Publishing Group (March 27, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1943645183
ISBN-13: 978-1943645183

Related Seagull Science Activities

1. Identifying Birds

Encourage children to learn how to identify birds. When children can tell different birds apart, they pay more attention to the birds they see.

Identifying birds requires learning to recognize body shapes, learning the names of body parts, plus honing observation skills. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has some tips and resources to get started.

 

The type of seagulls featured in the book are herring gulls. As you can see from the illustrations, herring gulls have robust white bodies, light gray on their wings, pink legs and feet, yellow eyes, and they have a red spot towards the tip of their yellow lower beak.  The All About Birds website has more details and photographs of herring gulls.

 

Is this a herring gull? Check the characteristics listed above. Does it match?

Nope. There are more than 20 species of gulls in North America.  This is an immature Heermann's gull (Larus heermanni).

2. Questions and Answers: Seagulls

Q: How are the feet of seagulls different from those of the song birds in your community?

A: The seagulls have webbed feet for swimming.

Q: What sounds do seagulls make?

Seagulls make a number of different sounds depending on circumstances. They have alarm calls, courtship calls, sounds to defend territories, and sounds when they feed their chicks. All About Birds has some seagull sound recordings.

Q: Why do seagulls have dots on their beaks?

A: Seagull chicks peck the dot on the beak as a signal they want to be fed.

Q:  Are seagulls only found at the beach?

A:  No. Seagulls are also found inland, around rivers and lakes, and even in agricultural fields. They are common around landfills.

Q:  Do seagulls really eat sea stars like in the book?

A:  Seagulls eat many different creatures at the beach, including sea stars, crabs, and fish. Those found at the landfill are feeding on trash.

Here are some clever gulls eating snails.

No matter how you crack it, seagulls are interesting animals.

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Earlier titles in the On Bird Hill and Beyond series:
On Bird Hill (2016) by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Bob Marstall

On Duck Pond (2017) by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Bob Marstall

See our growing list of children's books for young birdwatchers at Science Books for Kids.

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher's representatives for review purposes. 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.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.