Review Blog

May 02 2018

Bird builds a nest by Martin Jenkins

cover image

A Science Storybook about Forces. Ill. by Richard Jones. Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406355130
(Ages: 3-7) Highly recommended. Themes: Forces, Push and Pull. In the front matter we are given a brief introduction to forces: "This is a book about forces. A force is something that makes an object move, stop moving or change direction. We can apply a force by pushing or pulling". The collage-like illustrations using earthy colours are beautiful, depicting flowers and trees from the endpapers and throughout. The narrative story itself is distinguished from the information by different and larger type. The story can be read alone but it also works very well when read alongside the informative text. The explanations are clear and easy for even the smallest children to understand. We are introduced to Bird and follow her through the day as she builds her nest in preparation for laying her eggs. First, she is hungry so she needs to pull a worm out of the ground. The small text reads, "Bird is getting ready to pull the worm. When you pull something, you are applying a force towards you".
The illustrations support the explanation perfectly and allow young children to tell the story using pictures alone (we see bird straining to pull a large, strong worm and struggling to pick up heavy and long twigs). It is made clear that some things are possible for Bird based on her size and strength ("Bird can carry: this quite large twig or two medium-sized twigs or three or four small twigs") and some tasks are not possible or difficult (it shows Bird exerting force on the actual nest that she is building as she moves around it pushing it with her body). These are things that children can actually relate to (pushing things with their body, the ability to pick up things of different weights, sizes and strengths). The book also touches on gravity and might lead to discussions about how things can be a similar size but different weights (she can carry many feathers and dried grass at once because they are very light).
This is a really clever introduction to forces for those beginning to understand the world around them and developing their scientific vocabulary. The conversational tone is gentle and calm. At the end of the book, there is an idea for an easy experiment using a ball of clay and a ping-pong ball, which will be suitable for classrooms and homes alike.
Nicole Nelson

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