Monday, November 19, 2012

Magic Monday - The Magic of Birds


I think I have an obsession with birds - way back in middle school, I went to a camping trip to a wonderful forest called Muthodi in Karnataka, India - this was the first time I was headed to one and I was excited. I was going to be away from home by myself (not totally myself but with a bunch of kids and camp counselors who were going to teach all about the wildlife there and lead us on hikes each day). We met others at the camp and making new friends along with learning was lots of fun. One of my new friends (who is now an old friend!) was into birdwatching and I picked up this interest from him. That lasted for a few years during which I watched birds, made notes on them, and wrote to my friend with details and then waited for him to write back with the actual names of the birds I had seen and described to him! Then life got in the way and birdwatching took a back seat. Now, my nine year old has picked up this interest all by himself, with totally no indication that I loved it once. And, just like that, I am enjoying this hobby again (though not as much as my enthusiastic junior ornithologist). I seem to pick up lots of books about/with birds in them, visit places dedicated to birds (couple of trips described here), and more.

By: Marit Menzin
Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.
32 pages

This book is a must-read-and-read-again book. The book teaches without being preachy, it teaches so sweetly that kids and adults of all ages will love the book and the messages it imparts – so many wonderful messages in a 32 page book!
My six year old loved the pictures (collage) and wanted to make a book just like that! She loved that Papa Crow loved Little Crow so much, as she said to me ‘just like you love me’.  This in itself, made me love the book, if not for the fact that it really is a great read and a visual treat.
Little Crow is sad – all the birds he wants to be friends with fly away the instant he caws – so he wishes he could be more like them and then they would play with him. Papa Crow thinks differently though, and in his opinion, Little Crow sounds great. Little Crow still wants to fit in and learns the high cost of trying to be someone he is not soon enough and finally learns that he is happiest when he ‘caws’.
I loved that through this story, we can teach that just like  papa crow loves little crow no matter what and little crow’s song is the sweetest song for papa, in the same way, your parents will always love you, always be there for you, always help and protect you. Changing yourself to try to fit in (especially when the change is not something you want) will not always make you happy. The book opens up many topics for discussion including - be careful what you wish for, peer pressure, fitting in, wanting what others have, feeling disappointed in yourself, learning to respect yourself, enjoying the talents/gifts you have.  Because of this, though the book is mentioned as for 4 to 8 year olds, we can read this with older kids also.
The book is a visual treat, as I mentioned earlier. Using the medium of collage, Marit illustrates the scenery and the birds in a burst of color.  You can see the panic in Little Crow’s eyes in a moment of danger and the joy when he is back with Papa Crow. Blue jays, goldfinches, cardinals, woodpeckers, mockingbirds are all colorfully illustrated here and my favorite is the cardinal.
Last but not the least, the author includes an informative ‘Fun Facts’ section at the end which gives interesting tidbits about the birds mentioned in the book. This also provides discussion points with children.  I learned that the blue jay is related to the crow – could not have guessed this at all (among other things).
We watched crows following a hawk recently and I remembered this book, and wondered just what the hawk had with it that the crows were crowding it.
A perfect gift for fathers for Father's Day, for any other day as well! 
Rating: A+
Reading Level:  4 to 8 years (but can work with older kids too)
Reread factor: 5/5

Retold by Alexis York Lumbard, illustrated by Demi,
Wisdom Tales,
44 pages
Bright, colorful, detailed illustrations of the birds provide a vibrant setting for this retelling of  Mantiq al-Tayr (translated as ‘The Conference of the Birds’), a Persian book of poems by Farid ud-Din Attar.
The birds have all gathered in despair – they do not have a leader to guide them. The wise hoopoe informs them of a king and inspires them to join her on a quest to meet the king. Through their journey, they discover and conquer their failings (the duck is lazy, the finch fearful, and the hawk wants to be first). The book makes perfect use of both wonderful prose and colorful illustrations that complement each other to convey these messages. It provides a way for parents to teach moral and spiritual values to kids without being preachy and works across diverse cultures and religions. So many birds are portrayed here and this also provides learning opportunities in a fun way as kids figure out the birds pictured here so beautifully.
The book is the second from these publishers that I have read and enjoyed and I look forward to more. These books have been revelations for me to the immense world we live in – I am now eager to discover more of Sufi poetry than before to begin with.
Rating: A
Reading Level: 4 and up
Reread factor: 4/5

Disclaimer:Thank you to NetGalley for sending me a digital review copy of all these books reviewed today. I was not compensated for my review. My thoughts on these books were in no way influenced by the author or publicist. They are my personal opinions formed when I read them.

What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey. It is a time when we share what we've read, currently reading, or what is up next on our reading list.
Completed reading:
Books reviewed here today
Many other romance novels and quick reads as well - will review at a later date.
Currently reading:
Journeys on the Silk Road (Review copy)
Secret of the Nagas (Personal copy)
Fairies at Bedtime (Digital ARC)
Two and Twenty Dark Tales (Digital ARC)
Pride and Prejudice (finally)
Thimble Summer (a digital loaner from OpenLibrary)
Vegan Eats World (digital ARC - review coming tomorrow)
and a few more as well (as mentioned in an earlier post last week, am reading many books together at this time, not the best idea i have had but ...)
Next to read:
Lots to pick from…
Will restart 
Shakespeare on Toast

9 comments:

  1. As someone who loves birds, I loved this post. Your blog is quite wonderful :)

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  2. Thank you so much for your review! You made my day!

    Marit

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    1. I loved this book, Marit, and am now eagerly looking forward to your next book

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  3. If you have an obsession with birds, I have an obsession with that bird art! What gorgeous book covers! :)

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    1. :) will keep that in mind..and post them when I find any gorgeous bird art

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