Saturday, April 5, 2014

United Tweets of America: 50 State Birds by Hudson Talbott

United Tweets of America: 50 State Birds by Hudson Talbott

Rating: 4.5 stars

This (pretty random) book illustrates perfectly the truism: it pays to have a good relationship with one's librarian.  Once again, I have Ben to thank for this lesson.  Mr. Steven, his current favorite librarian, is oh-so-patient with Ben's imperfectly-spoken but always-earnest requests.  Of Ben's current current interests, sports is still at the top.  But, thanks to a long unit on birds in his pre-Kindergarten class, he's been looking for books on birds in between looking for birds out his window.  And, he's very interested in the United States.  In the past, Mr. Steven found him a DK Book on the United States and Texas, which Ben pored through quietly in one sitting.

Jonathan's home state is home to:
the Mardi Gras-partying Brown Pelican
One day about a month ago, Ben boldly walked up to the Circulation Desk with his "library list" in hand.  He asked Mr. Steven for a book on birds.  I think this was the beginning of the bird phase, the second time he asked Mr. Stephen about bird books.  So Mr. Steven strode off to the appropriate section, with Ben trotting happily behind him, dimples deep with joy.  (Who doesn't love joy in a library?  It's a good story already, methinks!) And Ben came back with this book, dimples impossibly deep with excitement.

"LOOK!" he said.  "It's a book about birds AND the United States!  Mr. Stephen found it for me!"

We've renewed it once already, and I think Ben might cry the day we actually have to return it.  We've read it cover to cover twice.  It's such a funny little book with funny little drawings--and that funniness is actually largely adult humor (for example, on the Tennessee page the bird is made to look like Elvis, and I had to explain why that was funny to Ben...although he knows what Elvis sounds like, he doesn't know what he looks like.  Well, until now!).  But Ben loves it.

Each page is dedicated to a state, and a big, usually silly illustration covers most of the page.  There are facts about the state--state anthem, state song, state capital, notable people from the state.  Also included are lots of little random things about the state that are fun to know.  For example:
  • Kool-Aid was invented in Nebraska.
  • Maine supplies 99% of the blueberries consumed and 90% of the toothpicks used in the U.S.
  • Illinois is home to the world's largest cookie producer, Nabisco.  In 1995 they made 16 billion Oreos!
  • Inspired by the view from Pike's Peak, CO, Katharine Lee Bates wrote "America the Beautiful."

Ben and Kiefer look for birds on a snowy morning...
Ben loves this book, and I have to say I've been really impressed with the big push about birds from his school.  Somehow it encapsulates all that I want for Ben that he doesn't naturally gravitate towards.  While he normally rushes through his day, expending endless amounts of his endless energy doing and chasing and running and laughing exuberantly, I think there's so much to be learned from quiet observation in nature.

I've written before about the huge effect the book Last Child in the Woods had on me eight years ago, but this unit on birds reminds me how great it is to:
  1. Be in a natural environment as much as possible (breathing in that fresh air)
  2. Be quiet and still in that environment (and, therefore, practicing quietness and stillness)
  3. Observe things happening in that environment with all of your senses (with birds, definitely sight and sound, but how can kids not also listen to the wind and feel it on their skin?)
  4. Note the uniqueness of each bird's markings and calls (what a lesson: within a group, each is different and special in their own way!)
Really, this blog post turned out to be a shout out of appreciation for those great people in our great community who are, luckily for us, having a wonderful affect on Ben's growth: a special librarian, and a special team of teachers.  Thank you!

No comments:

Post a Comment