Friday, June 10, 2016

Night Sounds and Birds

I'm always on the lookout for picture books that are inspired by nature. Here are two recently published books filled with lyrical prose that will leave your heart singing.

theme: nature, animals

Cricket Song
by Anne Hunter
32 pages; ages 4-7
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016

As the sun sets, what sounds does the summer breeze carry into your room? Is it the sound of  crickets singing? The kreck kreck of frogs, or the call of a poorwill from beneath the trees?

The lyrical text carries us away from the house and along the stream to the edge of the sea. Then carries us on the tide westward, following the sun, to another place where a child dozes, listening to the sound of crickets. (listen to cricket sounds here.)

What I like (besides the wonderful noises of insects and amphibians) is the illustration that lies across the bottom of each spread. It's like a footer on a document, and shows parts of the story that words only allude to. Some reviewers call this a bedtime book. It could be - but it also could be a book that you use to begin a night of exploration (just save the last couple pages til you get back home and climb into bed). What could be more fun than sitting outside listening to crickets, frogs, and other critters of the night?

On Bird Hill
by Jane Yolen; illus. by Bob Marstall
32 pages; ages 3-5 years
Cornell Lab Publishing, 2016

"...on Bird Hill I saw a tree,
As light and bright as it could be."

This book reminded me of a song we used to sing when we were kids about a tree in a bog and a branch on that tree and a nest on the branch and a bird in the nest. You can listen to it here.

In this book it's a boy and his dog heading off to Bird Hill. In rhyming couplets, Jane Yolen shows them finding a tree, and a nest, and a bird in that nest. It was hard not to sing the lines as I read along.

What I like - besides the fun rhymes, is Bob Marstall's fanciful artwork. He evokes a Seussian habitat with brightly colored insects and a wild-feathered chick.

Beyond the books ~

Listen to night sounds. What do you hear: frogs? crickets? night birds? cats? coyotes? If you can, put red cellophane over a flashlight and sit outside to listen. (but make sure you are protected from mosquito bites).

Draw some fanciful, Bob Marstall-inspired trees. A whole forest, or maybe just one that would be a perfect place to make a nest. Or a bird, cricket, frog.... have some fun.

Today we're joining PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books.

Review copies provided by publishers.


  1. Looks like two fun books, Sue! I love nature sounds, but wish the wren outside my window would sleep past 5am.

  2. Love these two books. Yolen is always a winner. Nice choice for PPBF, Sue.

  3. I keep seeing Cricket Song online. I added it to my list for this week. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I've been enjoying the morning sounds lately. Will look for these two.

  5. Love both your choices! I loved listening to the crickets outside my open bedroom window at night. Still do. And, can't wait to read Jane Yolen's new book! Thanks for both recommendations!