This book is pure gold. Your entire family will want this on your bookshelves so you can dip into it frequently. Your library patrons will be grateful when you hand them this gem. And in a classroom, this is a gorgeous, STEAM-empowering, widely-encompassing book. Read the poetry out loud, read the nonfiction narratives out loud because they’re so interesting and well-written, and share the short stories, photographs, and infographics.
Fly With Me: A Celebration of Birds
through Pictures, Poems, and Stories
written by Jane Yolen, Heidi E.Y. Stemple, Jason Stemple, and Adam Stemple
National Geographic Children’s Books, 2018, 192 pages
Let me draw you in with highlights from this magical book:
Listening to Wrens
Dr. Donald Kroodsma
“Wrens, like other birds, have different dialects – they may be similar, but birds of the same species from different areas often sing different songs.”
Isn’t that fascinating? On that page, there is a birdsong sonogram. We learn how to read it and we can’t help but understand how Dr. Kroodsma has devoted his life to his studies of birds.
There’s also a poem by Jane Yolen on this two-page spread:
That Bird Song
“the one stitched together
with phrases as sharp,
as honed, as swift
as a pulse of air.
“One moment there,
Then gone into memory
Until the next bird sings
We read the facts, observe the irresistible visual, and we get to feel the information through a poem.
How to Photograph Birds, two very useful pages, enlightened by a mother/daughter poem, “On the Hunt,” gasp-worthy photos, and essential information (birds see ultraviolet light).
The authors manage to convey information that would seem improbable for the printed word, proof that a book can surpass presentation on a digital device.
What are the names of flocks of birds? You probably know “an exaltation of larks,” but do you know “a siege of herons,” “a deceit of lapwings”? These pages are graced by couplets written by Jane Yolen.
When I perused the back matter, I began to cry. The Authors’ Notes are a loving tribute to Professor David Stemple, husband of Jane Yolen and father of Heidi, Jason, and Adam Stemple. I understood the breathlessness and excitement of reading this book: great care and attention, love, was evident here, a tribute and gift this family has shared with us.
There is a close-up look at the parts of a feather, a section of state birds, music for two traditional songs about birds, a history of falconry, an homage to Audubon, seven short bird tales from around the world … it’s everything you can want to know about birds. Did you know the pink color of flamingos is caused by pink pigments in the shrimp they eat?
The designers at National Geographic should win an award for this book: the design, colors, layout, thoughtful presentation of infographics, the way text is placed on the page, everything serves its purpose with imagination and inspiration. While reading this book, I often found my hand over my heart and my mouth open. Enchanting. Moving.
A section on Famous Citizen Scientists gives clear directions for how you can become one.
The bird species that are gone forever, what caused them to disappear, and what’s being done to save endangered species.
I believe this book will be opened often because it is irresistible.
I believe every family, library, classroom, and places where books are gathered should hold a copy of Fly with Me. One cannot help but love, admire, and need to save our birds after reading and savoring this book. Thanks to the authors and National Geographic Children’s Books for their gift to all of us.