This Is the NEST That ROBIN Built – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: This is the NEST that ROBIN Built, with a little help from her friends

Author & Illustrator: Denise Fleming

Publisher: Beach Lane Books, 2018

Ages: 4-8

Themes: nests, robins, chicks, help, rhythm



This is the SQUIRREL
who trimmed the twigs, not too big,
that anchor the nest that Robin built.


A robin’s animal friends help build her nest in this cumulative collage picture book.

Robin is building a nest, and her friends are ready to help! The squirrel trims the twigs. The dog brings the string. The horse shares his straw. And a pig, a mouse and a rabbit all do their part. And then a surprise gatefold spread reveals how Robin knits them all together to make a safe and cozy home for her babies.

Why I like this book:

I think this is my all time favorite riff on “The house that Jack built.” It takes common animals from the countryside and farm embedded in the the familiar punchy rhyming rhythm we know well. I love all the building materials mentioned in their layers, and the combined texture of print-making and collage provide the perfect medium to portray the structure of a Robin’s nest. Denise printed all the papers (monoprint), then cut them up and collaged them to create the final illustration. Color and texture create wonderful patterns.

Children should check the pages for more than just the six familiar animals mentioned…. Mice, a rooster, a frog, insects, ladybugs… The pages pulse with spring life, not just from the level of animation in the illustrations, but also the wonderful action verbs: trim, anchor, wrap…

 I love the unexpected fledgling finale too!

This is a great tongue-twister of a read-aloud to herald spring in the classroom.


Maybe take your children out into the playground/park to see if they can be Robin’s helper and find all the raw material necessary to build a nest.This story is a sweet introduction to nest-building and the life cycle of a robin.

Make a bird’s nest STEM project for kids.

Don’t miss this interview I did with Denise a couple of years ago. 

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.


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The Boy Who Grew A Forest – PPBF and Arbor Day, April 1st

Title: The True Story of Jadav Payeng The Boy Who Grew a Forest

Author: Sophia Gholz

Illustrator: Kayla Harren

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press, 2019

Ages: 4-8

Themes: deforestation, tree planting, habitats, conservation, India, one man power, caring for earth


The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago.
The second best time to plant a tree is now.


As a boy, Jadav Payeng was distressed by the destruction deforestation and erosion was causing on his island home in India’s Brahmaputra River. So he began planting trees. What began as a small thicket of bamboo, grew over the years into 1,300 acre forest filled with native plants and animals. The Boy Who Grew a Forest tells the inspiring true story of Payeng–and reminds us all of the difference a single person with a big idea can make. 

Why I like this book:

This story of a young conservationist change-maker many years ago is wonderfully inspiring and relevant today. Many boys and adults are worried about deforestation, very few turn compassion and concern into action. One seed, one plant, one tree at a time, he grew a bamboo forest.

I love how the book addresses the inevitable challenges of the return of the bamboo habitat, and how this young man deals with them to care for humans and animals in his beautiful river island home in northern India. facing the threat of the return of different species like tigers and elephants, or the human greed for poaching for financial gain, he finds solutions that work for the entire community. Written in simple lyrical language, the words flow beautifully to tie in with the lush earth-tone art.

This is a beautifully written and illustrated environmental biography that will inspire your children/students.


This is the perfect book to read to your class for National Plant a Tree Day, April 1st. Thoughtful back matter and a plant-a-seed activity encourage further engagement from young readers, which is a perfect finish to this biography.

On the author’s website you can find a terrific teacher’s guide created by Marcie Colleen.

Pair this with The Tree Lady.

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

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A Brief History of Life on Earth – Children’s Book Recommendation

Title: A Brief History of Life on Earth

Author & illustrator: Clémence DupontI

 Publisher: Prestel Verlag, 2019 (French edition, l’Agrume, 2017)

Translated from French by: Paul Kelly

Ages: 5-11

Themes: history of the earth, hadean age, archean age, proterozoic, phanerzoic age, eons


We’ve travelled back about 4.6 billion years before the present day. The earth is very young and extremely hot. All around us is an ocean of magma – the boiling, fluid rock that we can still see today as lava. The atmosphere is dense, almost yellowish, and a continuous burst of meteorites bombards the planet. Welcome to hell! This is the first eon (geological time) of Earth’s history, and it is aptly named after Hades, the god of the underworld. Millions of years go by and the Earth starts to stabilize and cool down. It is covered by water., with the first oceans appearing. They occupy almost the entire globe. The moon can also be seen, but it is much closer to Earth than nowadays. So close, in fact, that its gravity causes enormous tides that make the entire planet appear to swell.


The story of life on earth unfolds in dramatic fashion in this amazing picture book that takes readers from 4.6 billion years ago to the present day.

It’s difficult to grasp the enormous changes life on Earth has undergone since it first came into existence, but this marvelously illustrated book makes learning about our planet’s fascinating history easy and entertaining. In an accordion style, the series of pages take readers through every major geological period, with bright artwork and detailed drawings. Opening on lava-filled oceans and smoking volcanoes, the book unfolds, era by era, to show how life evolved from tiny protozoa and crustaceans to dinosaurs and mammals. Fully expanded to 8 meters (26 feet), this spectacular visual timeline is a very impressive panorama that reveals evolution in all its glory. Each page is brimming with illustrations that readers will turn to again and again. A celebration of life, this extraordinary and beautiful book illuminates the history of Earth for young readers in an unforgettable and delightful way.

Why I like this book:

I think I am going to have to catalog this one as reference in the school library as I know so many of my upper elementary and middle school students are going to want to pore over it. The huge unfolding format is so visually effective and the card used appears sturdy, but I do want to keep an eye on it. The text is beautiful narrative nonfiction and reading this science and history is a pleasure. It offers a terrific visual of how recent and small homo sapien’s history is.

Using the same color palate throughout, but adding to the detail and complexity of life forms is visually compelling. As an anthropologist, I have studied all these eons but this presentation was so much more enticing than any of my old text books. I would honestly happily use this in a high school anthropology class.

By the way, the book folds out the length of a triceratops, how cool is that?

I would pair this with two more picture books I have reviewed over the past couple of months: One Iguana Two Iguanas and The Stuff of Stars.

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