________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 39. . . .June 16, 2017


Counting on Birds.

Kate Riggs. Illustrated by Jori van der Linde.
Mankato, MN: Creative Editions (Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books), 2017.
14 pp., board book, $12.99.
ISBN 978-1-56846-300-1.

Subject Headings:
Birds-Juvenile literature.
Counting-Juvenile literature.
Board Books.

Preschool-kindergarten / Ages 3-5.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*1/2 /4



As the title suggests, this board book is a counting book, one with its focus being birds, specifically a nesting pair and their three young. In the book’s very short length, youngsters will observe the egg, nestling and fledgling stages of a bird’s development. The book’s opening double-page spread reveals a wooded area, perhaps a public park, in which:


One nest sits safely
in a tree.

     The next spread introduces the pair of parent birds, but there is a disconnect between the text and the accompanying illustration. The former informs readers that the parents take turns keeping the eggs warm, but, in the illustration, neither adult bird is sitting on the nest. Older children, i.e. those for whom the book is not intended, will recognize that the bird swooping in from the left is likely about to settle on the nest, but the book’s preschool audience will probably not make such a prediction. This text/illustration dissonance occurs twice more in the book’s seven spreads. The numbers 7 Seven and 8 Eight are combined on a single spread where the text informs readers that “Seven – then all eight – toes take hold.” The illustration reveals the three young birds perching on a branch, but exactly what the child is to count to arrive at seven, then eight, is completely unclear. In total, there are six legs on the branch, each having four toes. In four instances, the “back” toe is behind the branch and is, therefore, “invisible” to the young counter. And the next spread is even worse as the text tells readers that it takes “Nine days to test and clean new feathers”, but the illustration reveals that the three young birds have left the nest and are helplessly fluttering (not flying) earthwards. While it may be informative to know that just nine days after an egg is hatched a bird may be largely fully feathered, Counting on Birds is a counting book, and the illustration provides nothing to count that will total nine.

     Another single spread, that of the three nestlings being fed by a parent, is utilized for the numbers four, five and six, with the text indicating that the reader should first count four baby bird eyes, then five, and finally six. In a counting book, each number merits its own unique treatment.

      The three spreads that do work are the aforementioned opening one, the spread related to the number three which shows the trio of nestlings, their mouths agape demanding food, and ten which finds the now mature birds and their parents in flight, with the text reading, “10 Ten wings flap and sail across the sky.”

      The intent of Counting on Birds had merit, but its execution, especially its marriage of text and illustration, was poor.

Not Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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