Two Many Birds – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: Two Many Birds

Author & Illustrator: Cindy Derby

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press, 2020

Ages: 4-8

32 pages. 

Genre: fiction

Themes: power of community, standing up for yourself, birds, inclusion, empathy, rules, resistance

Opening:

Synopsis:

A lone authority-bird monitors the number of birds with access to an old tree. There’s a 100-bird limit. – there’s a limit of 100 birds. As more and more birds gather, rules multiply. No nesting, no running, no parrots on Tuesdays, no feather fluffing, no diapers, etc. During one of the authority-bird’s lunch breaks, one of the birds’ eggs hatches and suddenly there are TWO MANY birds. The authority-bird tries to enforce the rules and evict the extras, but the bird community resists.

While thus far in the story we have seen the authority-bird as the antagonist, he has a beautiful story arc. His grumpy rule-enforcement had a sincere motivation. He cares about trees. He starts to plant fields of acorns. This solo endeavor is soon joined by the birds he but soon he’d rejected until soon the acorn-sowing is an entire community endeavor. The final spreads show a small forest with trees for everyone to enjoy.

Why I like love this book:

First off, the art is dreamy. This dumpling-shaped quirky birds with long legs and some with funky hair, are hilarious. I spent a long time appreciating all these bird characters. And the textual humor is as strong as the visual. The arbitrary rules are side-splitting and the subtle play on TWO(TOO) many birds, with a mid-book reveal of the significance of TWO, will appeal to the astute listeners.

I love how the Authority rule-enforcer is not as black as you think, and people can change from authoritarian rule-enforcers to community-embracers and conservationists. Also Cindy shows us the power of united resistance and looking for creative solutions for finding other and/or expanding local resources so all can benefit. This is a beautiful, funny multi-layered picture book.

Resources/Activities:

If this is read with a class, I think the whole class could create a tree display on the wall with each kid making 3 or 4 of their own birds to stick onto the branches.

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.

Thank you to the author for a copy of the picture in exchange for an unbiased review.

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Love Can Come in Many Ways – Perfect Picture/Board Book Friday

Title: Love Can Come in Many Ways

Author: Terry Pierce

Illustrator: Suzy Ultman

 Publisher: Chronicle Books., 2020

Ages: 0-3

Themes: love, animals love, human love

Genre: novelty board book

Synopsis:

Love Can Come in Many Ways celebrates the many diverse ways animals, and humans, show their love. It’s a novelty book with adorable lift-the-flap interactive spreads features 10 felt flaps total in nine different, catchy colors. The expressions of love range from the songs that mama frog sings to a warm hug from a papa elephant’s trunk.

Opening:

Nose to nose or gaze to gaze,

Love can come in many ways.

Why I like this book:

This is an adorable novelty book just full of heart and kindness, which let’s face it we are sorely in need of during these days. The rhyming couplets are strong and textually rich with great vocab and concepts of animal parental affection from papa penguins offering sturdy infant care to mama swans embracing cygnets under their wings. Littlies will adore uncovering sweet surprises the bright felt flaps. Adorable critters from around the world affirm their love for thei offspring in creative ways.

This would be a great gift.

Resources/Activities:

Maybe create some fun loving scenarios with all the child’s stuffed animals.

Tara Lazar did a great interview with the author, here.

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Strongman – Book Recommendation

Title: Strongman The Rise of Five Dictators and the Fall of Democracy

Author: Kenneth C. Davis

 Publisher: Henry Holt and Co., 2020

Ages: 12+

Themes: fascism, Communism, genocide, democracy, communism, Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, Hitler, Saddam Hussein, authoritarianism,

Genre: Nonfiction

Synopsis:

What makes a country fall to a dictator? How do authoritarian leaders—strongmen—capable of killing millions acquire their power? How are they able to defeat the ideal of democracy? And what can we do to make sure it doesn’t happen again?

By profiling five of the most notoriously ruthless dictators in history—Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Saddam Hussein—Kenneth C. Davis seeks to answer these questions, examining the forces in these strongmen’s personal lives and historical periods that shaped the leaders they’d become. Meticulously researched and complete with photographs, Strongman provides insight into the lives of five leaders who callously transformed the world and serves as an invaluable resource in an era when democracy itself seems in peril. (publisher)

Quotes:

I am going to quote the ending, as I love it.

In the beloved children’s book, “The Cat in The Hat”, after two children spend an afternoon of chaos and messiness with a mischievous cat while there mother is out, a boy wonders whether he and his sister Sally should tell her what took place. His question is the same one these terrible stories force us to ask:

“What would YOU do if your mother asked YOU?”

Why I like this book:

This book is soundly researched, clearly structured, and written in a way that students from middle school and up can gain a strong introduction to the five dictators included and make connections to the past and present threats to democracies such dictators pose. The chapters are short and make engaging reading as well as being packed with dates, photos, political explanations and especially the correlation often to wars that create the opportunity for these “Strongmen” to flourish.

The author doesn’t avoid depicting the genocidal policies pursued by these men, nor does he shy away from the alarming parallels between the dictatorships discussed and present day American politics. It is a wake up call, not to be passive when faced with such attacks on democracy. In the final chapter, “Never Again”, Davis offers a call to active resistance. Protests, writing letters to elected officials, and asking lots of questions are depicted as requirements of citizens in a healthy democracy. Ultimately it is asking the reader, “If faced with a Strongman what would I do?”

This book would be great addition to units about the dictatorships of Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong, or Saddam Hussein, or any lessons looking at the rise of democracies and republics from their roots in in ancient civilizations. Or, lessons of a more philosophical and societal nature, looking at complicity. A solid introduction to dictators, despots and democracy and a terrific addition to middle and high school libraries.

I felt that Election Day, 2020, was an appropriate date on which to post this book review.
Highly recommended, and thank you to the publisher for my review ARC.

Resources/Activities:

The author draws from an extensive lineup of thinkers and writers, from Primo Levi, Thucydides, Madeleine Albright, and Dr. Seuss to George Orwell and more. The book concludes with an extensive bibliography and endnotes, providing a wealth of resources for further research

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