Tag Archives: birds

Hooray for Birds by Lucy Cousins

Children have been growing up with Lucy Cousins’ illustrations for many years now.  Her bold illustrations are very distinctive and you certainly can’t miss them.  Children have gone on adventures with Maisy, been captivated by her fairy tale retellings, and discovered all sorts of beautiful fish.  In Lucy’s latest book, Hooray for Birds, children will fall in love with birds.

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Children will find themselves becoming birds of all kinds as they wake up shouting “Cock-a-doodle-doo!” like a rooster, pecking like a woodpecker, and standing tall on just one leg like a flamingo.   They will hop, swim and swoop their way through the book until, worn out from all the excitement, they cuddle up close with Mama in their nest.

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Hooray for Birds is a bright, busy, noisy book that will make children flap their wings with delight.  It’s a delightful picture book that adults will be only too happy to read again and again.  Lucy encourages children to join in with the birds and flap, sing and waddle along with these colourful creatures.  I love Lucy’s illustration style and it really appeals to young children especially.  One of my favourite aspects of Hooray for Birds are the gorgeous endpapers which are covered with birds.

I think this would be a great book for teachers to incorporate in to the classroom as I can see lots of ways to extend the story across the curriculum.  Lucy uses lots of wonderful descriptive language for the different actions of the birds, so this could be worked in to the English curriculum.  The book could be part of a drama lesson where the children are acting as the different birds.  Children could create colourful birds of their own as part of an art lesson.  There are so many opportunities to extend the fun of this book.

Hooray for Birds is a delight to share and I’m sure it will be a favourite with the younger children in your life.

 

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Picture Book Nook: One Little Fantail by Anne Hunter, illustrated by Dave Gunson

There are some wonderful books that have been published about New Zealand birds, especially Ben Brown and Helen Taylor’s picture books.  There are very few, however, that are perfect for younger children and wonderful to read aloud.  One Little Fantail by Anne Hunter and illustrated by Dave Gunson is one of those books that entertains and informs young children about New Zealand birds.

One Little Fantail is a collection of delightful rhymes that introduce children to a variety of our native birds.  Anne Hunter’s rhyming text is a joy to read aloud and each poem rolls off your tongue.  I love the way that Anne can describe so much about each bird’s characteristics in just eight lines. The short, rhyming text makes the book perfect for sharing with younger children, as they don’t get bogged down in detail. You could get children to pretend to be each bird, based on the description that Anne gives you of each one.  For those inquisitive children, there are more interesting facts about each bird in the ‘Did you know…’ pages at the back of the book.

Each double page spread features a different bird, with their name in English and Maori.  Dave Gunson’s realistic illustrations are stunning and he perfectly captures the characteristics of each bird.  He captures the mischief of the Kea, the flitting of the Fantail, and the fierceness of the Kahu.

Book Design have done a brilliant job of designing One Little Fantail.  I especially like the way that the names of the birds fade into the background, while also being quite prominent on the page, and the way that the sounds each bird makes stands out in bold lettering.

One Little Fantail is a book should be in every preschool and school around the country.  Grab a copy and introduce your children to our magnificent native birds.

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Kiwi: the real story by Annemarie Florian, illustrated by Heather Hunt

New Holland Publishers are one of the leading publishers of children’s non-fiction in New Zealand and their books are often nominated for the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.  Their latest gem is the wonderful Kiwi: the real story by Annemarie Florian and illustrated/designed by Heather Hunt.

Kiwi: the real story is a marvelous multi-layered book thattells the story of Kiwi behaviour.  Weaving its way through the pages is a poem about the Kiwi, full of beautiful descriptive language, like ‘gorging grubber’ and ‘cricket-cruncher.’ I love alliteration and this poem is chock-full of it, making it a joy to read aloud.  Tying in wonderfully with the poem are the blocks of more detailed information on each page, which explain why the Kiwi is a ‘spider-wrestler’ and a ‘covert nestler.’  The design of the book means that you can read the poem and the information separately, or both together.  Younger children will love the poem and the illustrations, whereas older children will also enjoy finding out more about the Kiwi.

Heather Hunt’s illustrations are stunning.  I find it amazing how she can make a bunch of squiggly lines look exactly like a Kiwi.  I love the way that she shows the movement of the Kiwi on the page and the way that she brings out the character of this marvelous bird.  The colours that Heather has used, from the bright green of the praying mantis to the blue of the egg, are vibrant against the black background, and the grey and white of the Kiwi makes it really stand out on the page.  I especially like the way that she has used different colours to differentiate between the adult Kiwi and the baby Kiwi.  Heather also designed the book and I think that it’s this design that really makes the book special.  She has taken the three layers of the story and woven them together so that they can be enjoyed in unison.  The words of the poem seem to dance around the illustrations, making the book extremely appealing to young children.  The book is beautifully produced too, in a hardback format, with endpapers that look like the night sky.

The character of the Kiwi in the story was originally created by Heather to be the ambassador for Backyard Kiwi, a project carried out by the Whangarei Heads Landcare Forum.  The quirky design is used to personify the bird for road signs and billboards.  You can learn more about Backyard Kiwi at www.backyardkiwi.org.nz  and you can find out more about Heather and her working process at heatherhunt.co.nz/KIWI-the-real-story.

Kiwi: the real story is a must for any primary school library and is sure to be a finalist in next year’s New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.  Grab a copy offrom your local library or bookshop now, or if you would like a special signed copy you can order these from Heather Hunt’s website – www.heatherhunt.co.nz/shop

4 out of 5 stars

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Filed under books, children, New Zealand, non-fiction, picture books