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5 Implausible New Birdy and Nature-Themed Books for Youngsters

Nature is the ultimate entertainer, providing endless opportunities to explore, observe, and make connections—between species and habitats, and among humans. These five books will delight children of various ages, and maybe even inspire them to take action. 

Love Birds

By Jane Yolen/Illustrated by Anna Wilson

(Cameron Kids, 2022; 32 pages; ages 4 to 8)

Jon is a quiet, solitary boy who seeks out the company of birds, always listening for the calls and songs of cardinals and wrens, jays and chickadees, that bring happiness to his life. One evening he hears a Barred Owl hooting. He answers with bird’s unique call, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?” He heads outside, taking part in the impromptu duet as he sets out to find the source. What starts out as a search for one particular birds ends up being the begining of an enduring friendship. Anna Wilson illustrates the birds and landscapes with rich hues and embues a sense of movement, and  Jane Yolen’s words beautifully describe the varied avian calls and how birding can bring people together. You can almost hear the pages sing.

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Expedition Backyard: Exploring Nature from Country to City (a graphic novel)

By Rosemary Mosco and Binglin Hu

(Random House Graphic, 2022; 128 pages; ages 4 to 8)

“Time for an Adventure!” shouts Vole at the beginning of Expedition Backyard. He and Mole get more of an adventure than they bargain for when they set out on the search for swamp milkweed—and end up in a minivan enroute to a new life in the city. The two creatures make the most of their blunder in this graphic novel by creators Rosemary Mosco (beloved for her bird cartoons) and Binglin Hu, exploring their backyard, encountering wildlife, and gathering adventurer friends along the way. The book ends with the characters’ tips for everything from drawing and nature journaling to how to stop birds from hitting your window.

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The Mystery of the Monarchs: How Kids, Teachers, and Butterfly Fans Helped Fred and Norah Urquhart Track the Great Monarch Migration 

By Barb Rosenstock/Illustrated by Erika Meza

(Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2022; 40 pages; ages 4 to 8)

Based on the true story of a scientist who solves a migration mystery, this vivid, lively book will delight readers of all ages. Young Fred Urquhart was fascinated by insects, especially his favorite: the monarch butterfly. As a kid he wondered where they disappeared to in winter—something no one knew for certain. The story follows Fred as he becomes an entomologist and, with his wife, Norah, tags hundreds of butterflies, hoping to solve the mystery. They soon discover they need help. They start a “butterfly family,” a community of children, teachers, and nature enthusiasts from Canada, the United States, and Mexico and and ultimately figure out where the monarchs go.

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Night Lunch

By Eric Fan/Illustrated by Dena Seiferling

(Tundra Books, 2022; 48 pages; ages 4 to 8) 

On a dark night a delicious smell fills the street. The Night Owl, a horse-drawn food cart, is ready to serve the line of nocturnal animals that quickly line up. Fox is served a mince pie; Possum, with its 10 babies, places a to-go order. Owl cooks through the night as Mouse, a street sweeper, watches, waiting for someone to drop a even a crumb. As night comes to an end and the last customer has been served, Owl spots Mouse trembling nearby. Will Owl a bite, or should Mouse worry about becoming dinner? With short sentences packed with wonderfully descriptive words and illustrations that seemingly glow with candlelight, Nigh Owl teaches children about the importance of kindness and caring for others. 

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Meltdown: Discover Earth’s Irreplaceable Glacier’s and Learn What You Can Do to Save Them

By Anita Sanchez/Illustrated by Lily Padula

(Workman Publishing, 2022; 128 pages; ages 8 to 12)

Ice cubes, sure. Frozen ground, possibly. Glaciers, however, are not something most kids get to experience—or even think much about. Meltdown not only describes them in language that evokes what it would be like to stand upon one, it also takes young readers on a journey from their basic formation through their essential role on Earth. (Did you know there’s a bird called the Diuca Finch that nests on glaciers? We didn’t!) True to its title, the book tells readers how and why glaciers melt and what that means for people and the planet—but also ways to do something about that! Like snowflakes falling on a mountaintop, it points out, many actions together create the unstoppable power of a glacier.

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