There’s something special about this time of year, when the mornings and evenings are a little lighter and the sound of birdsong accompanies the rising and falling of the sun.
As I sit at my desk in the attic room, writing this blog, I can hear the chirping outside and I’ve switched my usually soundtrack of Radio 6 off to listen.
We’re big bird fans Chez Bookworm. Baby B’s dad was a young ornithologist and has an encyclopedic knowledge of the different species and their songs. He’s eagle-eyed (pardon the pun) when it comes to spotting them high up in the trees and identifying finches, warblers and tits – one of his many skills I’ve admired since we met.
As a result, we’ve been drawn to all things birds at home and with Baby Bookworm. One of his most treasured soft toys is a robin that sings, given to him by a friend, and we have stacks of books on the theme.
Here are some of the favourites reads about our feathered friends, all pictured in front of the bedroom wallpaper of our flat in London. The flat we moved out of 14 months ago – yes, it has taken me that long to get this blog live…
A Busy Day For Birds by Lucy Cousins. £7.99 (paperback) Walker
From the dawn chorus to the owl’s night time song, this colourful exploration of the daily life of birds is a delight. Lucy Cousins’s characteristically vibrant illustrations are a feast for the eyes, while the funny rhyming text implores readers to hop, hoot and peck along with the story.
It’s lots of fun and a real celebration of our feathered friends in all their swooping and swimming glory, from the polar penguin to the commonplace cockerel. The oversized pages really bring the images to life while we like looking at the endpapers to see which birds sleep in the day and which rest at night.
Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins. £6.99 (paperback), Penguin
On the surface, this classic story about a chicken taking a walk around the farm, followed by a sneaky fox hungry for his next meal, seems rather simple. But that is part of the book’s genius, because it is packed with laughs and learning for baby bookworms.
The slapstick comedy of oblivious Rosie outfoxing her hunter as he falls into ponds and gets chased by bees while she escapes unscathed is just a treat. The language used and the talking points within each vibrant, striking illustration are also brilliant for expanding vocabulary and understanding.
Robin’s Winter Song by Suzanne Barton. £6.99 (paperback), Bloomsbury
This beautiful book tells the story of that most Christmassy of birds, the robin. The hardy little creature sees the leaves starting to fall and wonders why his friends are making preparations for something scary called winter.
But when it arrives and the countryside is coated with snow, he realises what a magical season it is. A touching and gentle story that features wonderful animal illustrations and gorgeous collage effects.
Surprising Birds: Lift-the-Flap Colours. £8.99 (board book), Walker Studio
Teaching your child their colours has never been more stylish thanks to this chic first concepts books starring a cast of beautiful birds.
On the surface they might look mundane and monochrome but hidden beneath their wings, under their tails and inside their beaks are some colourful surprises. Their surprised expressions are also a hoot to boot.
Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers. £6.99 (paperback), HarperCollins Children’s
Oliver Jeffers’ The Boy is one of our favourite picture book characters and in this touching instalment of his adventures, he answers his front door to find a mysterious penguin standing there.
Given that the mute, sad-looking bird is flightless, he resolves to help him find his way home, battling through stormy seas to reach the South Pole. But when he sails away and leaves his new friend behind, he realises that the penguin was never lost – just lonely.
Listen to the Birds by Marion Billet. £6.99 (board book), Nosy Crow
What this brightly coloured book lacks in plot, it makes up for with “six amazing real life sounds” such as a cuckoo and blackbird, that your child will love learning to press. The illustrations are also bold and cheery.
We have a few books from this fun range now (the first being a Christmas present from Granny) and they have become a daily staple in our house, not to mention changing bag for distraction purposes…
Red & Lulu by Matt Tavares. £11.99 (hardback), Walker
The power of love is at the heart of this epic tale about two birds separated when the proud pine they call home is chosen to be the Rockefeller Centre Christmas Tree. Lulu is asleep in the branches when the men come to take the tree away, leaving her mate bereft.
Red’s journey to New York and search across the city, to be reunited with Lulu thanks to the song ‘O Christmas Tree’, is beautifully illustrated and reminiscent of a classic festive film. We have a massive soft spot for both New York and birds so this is one of our favourites.
Sylvia and Bird by Catherine Rayner. £6.99 (paperback), Little Tiger Press
It’s lonely being the only dragon in the world so Sylvia is delighted when she meets Bird. She’s tiny and so very different, but the enormous dragon helps her unlikely new friend to build a nest and their days are happier just being together.
This story about friendship and belonging is very touching, while the artwork by Kate Greenaway Medal winner Catherine Rayner is a gorgeous and delicate mix of blues, greens and yellows.
Shh! We Have A Plan by Chris Haughton. £5.99 (board book), Walker
We can’t resists Chris Haughton’s sumptuous colour palettes and this story also has a rich vein of irresistible slapstick comedy along with some brilliant repetitive text (which I am convinced taught Baby Bookworm to count “1-2-3”).
As four friends head out on a walk, they spot a beautiful birdy that they simply have to catch. But as each of the bigger three insist they have a plan – and each one ends in failure – it falls to the littlest member of the gang to find a way to a bird’s heart.
Parrots Don’t Live In The City! by Lucy Reynolds and Jenna Herman. £7.99 (paperback), Doodles and Scribbles.
The delightful quirk of nature that is South London’s parakeet population makes for a dazzling debut picture book from this duo.
The story follows Jack’s attempts to convince his disbelieving friend Emily that he did see a parrot at the park. The debate builds until a “bird-coloured rainbow” turns the sky shimmering green.
What’s lovely is the perfect marriage of the words and pictures, with typography that is part of the detailed, green-dominated colour palette.
The Sky Guys by Madeleine Rogers. £4.99 (board book), Mibo
Nurture your mini David Attenborough with this simple introduction to some high-flyers. Designer Madeleine Rogers’s bold, stylised illustrations are combined with rhyming but factual text about the characteristics of an owl, flamingo, albatross, hummingbird and pelican.
There’s also a gentle message about caring for our fellow Earth dwellers running through the book, which is part of a series by design house Mibo exploring the planet’s different habitats and the animals who inhabit them.
Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson. £5.99 (board book), Walker
If you have a child who suffers with separation anxiety or has a tendency to worry, this classic bedtime book about three fearful owls is the ideal way to alleviate their anxiety.
When Sarah, Percy and Bill wake up to find their Owl Mother gone, the trio are anxious for her to return. They ponder over where she might be and fret amongst themselves until a happy reunion ensues.
With its reassuring message and the strikingly lifelike illustrations, no wonder this story has sold four and a half million copies since it was published 25 years ago.
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