Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Books for the Birds

The True Story of Stellina
by by Matteo Pericoli, 2006

One of the honors of being a school librarian is the opportunity to be there for some of the small but very important moments of your students lives.

Reading The True Story of Stellina reminded me of an early morning visit from a student who came in before school and asked "Do we have any books on birds?" Well, what do you want to find out about birds? Is this for a report? Is there any special type of bird you are looking for?

She was clutching a shoebox and slowly lifted the lid and began to explain how she had found this baby bird on the sidewalk on the way to school and she had run all the way back home to find a shoebox and now she had it in the box and see the sticks and leaves she had added? She needed to find out how to take care of the bird so she had come to her library to get help.

We ended up enlisting the help of our school nurse who, as a professional 4H mom, had raised just about every kind of animal imaginable. I cannot remember now what happened to the bird but my young friend would have been enchanted by this gentle story.

The author's wife hears a "cheep" and finds a baby bird on the noisy streets of Manhattan. She takes the little bird home and manages to feed it and care for it. Stellina lives and thrives and repays the couple with companionship and love for eight years. The drawings are light and delicate like the bird whose story they are telling. I am looking forward to sharing it with kids. They will be charmed.

Mocking birdies by Annette Simon, 2005

Wikipedia explains that mockingbirds are "best known for the habit of some species of mimicking the songs of other birds, often loudly and in rapid succession." The Mockingbird is the state bird of Texas. Kids understand that copycatting is a sure way to get under someone's skin. The book flap reminds us that "stop copying me" is a frequent childhood refrain.

The bright primary colors and geometric shapes of the birds prepare the readers for a bit of fun as they read this book. The birds sit on lines that resemble a music staff and then later, telephone lines. The text varies in size and color, which would make the book interesting to share as a choral read with a class. I would put the book under an Elmo so the whole class could see the colors and read the words. One group could read the red lines, another, the blue lines, and the purple lines together. The echoing quality of the text would make all students feel successful. This is also a good book to share sitting side by side with just one special reading friend.

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