What we’re reading: Parrots Don’t Live In The City by Lucy Reynolds & Jenna Herman

I love how wildlife can flourish in the most unexpected places.

I grew up surrounded by fields and hills, yet I see more birds and animals close up living in London than I ever did in the Welsh valleys.

The capital city might be busy and expensive, with two flights of stairs to climb to reach our front door.

But when you get to the top, our flat overlooks a large communal garden ringed by mature trees that are teaming with feathered friends.

Baby Bookworm’s dad is a keen twitcher – he keeps binoculars and an RSPB guidebook on the windowsill at all times, which is probably why one of BB’s first words was “eagle”.

Over the years he has spotted birds from our window that he’d never seen previously. One species, rather unique to south London, are ring-necked parakeets.

Locals are used to seeing these vibrant birds flash across the sky, their bold call as loud as their vivid green feathers.

But visitors quite understandably do a double take. Could such a tropical bird really live in the city?

This is the lovely premise for the debut book by writer Lucy Reynolds and illustrator Jenna Herman.

Lucy lives not far from us and was inspired to write a children’s poem when her husband didn’t believe her tales of green feathers.

She shared the verse with her university friend Jenna and the book was born, created during long nights after their babies had gone to bed and self-published this summer.

The story follows Jack’s attempts to convince his friend Emily that he did see a parrot at the park.

The little girl tells him this can’t possibly be the case. After all, parrots live in the zoo or the jungle, not the city.

The debate builds until a “bird-coloured rainbow” turns the sky shimmering green and a delighted Emily happily eats her words.

What’s lovely about this book is the perfect marriage of the words and pictures. They work together so beautifully and the typography is part of the artwork.

Lucy’s rhymes flow effortlessly and the repetition is great for holding your child’s attention, while Jenna’s detailed hand-drawn illustrations are truly distinct, with a green-dominated colour palette.

We also love all the different creatures to spot – cats, butterflies, tigers – and the Minibeast Nature Trail that winds through the pages. Plus the chance to squawk “kee-ak and kee-ee”, of course.

One thing you won’t learn from this story is how the parakeets – which are native to India – got to be in London. But that’s because no-one really knows the truth of this happy ecological accident.

Nevertheless, our delight in this book has grown with each bedtime read. A debut as dazzling as a pandemonium of parrots.

Parrots Don’t Live In The City by Lucy Reynolds and Jenna Herman. £7.99, Doodles & Scribbles. Buy from Amazon

Find out more about Lucy and Jenna’s work at doodlesandscribbles.co.uk

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