With rhyming text accompanying beautiful wildlife photos, Hello, I’m Here! is the story of an adorable sandhill crane chick hatching and exploring its new world. The hatchling and its sibling splash around in the water and enjoy some bugs and snails under the watchful guidance of their Mama and Papa, always nearby. The photographs are beautiful, allowing readers to enjoy the fuzzy, long-legged chicks and the stunning adult birds’ coloring. The photos have incredible texture; the birds’ feathers look like they’d ruffle under one’s hand, and the chicks look so fuzzy, you’ll want to run your finger across their heads. The photos of the birds in flight are stunning. The text is sweet and has a comforting cadence; the sentences are short and put readers in the chick’s place as it discovers the world around it. An author note about sandhill cranes has some great additional information for readers: did you know that parents and chicks communicate while the chicks are still in their eggs? That went over really well when I told the parents! I love being able to add little facts like that in a storytime. The endpapers have beautiful photos of a baby sandhill crane and its parent, and of four cranes flying across the sky at sunset. Absolutely breathtaking.
I tried Hello, I’m Here! out in a recent storytime, and the kids and parents alike loved it. The parents gestured to the pages quite often, impressed with the photos, and the little ones loved hearing about the little bird taking its first steps, flapping around with its sibling, and watching other cranes fly overhead. This is a great choice for a nature/discovery/science storytime, a spring storytime, and just a plain, good storytime for the little ones. I would also read Alex Latimer’s Am I Yours? as a companion to this one: it’s got dinosaurs, but the whole story of a baby dino in its egg talking to prospective parents is just too cute to pass up.
Next up, I read Birds, by Carme Lemniscates. It’s a nonfiction book of a different sort, with bright, bold mixed media illustrations of various birds and two children enjoying their company. The text reads like a poetic ode to birds, starting first with descriptive sentences: “Some birds are really big/Others are tiny/Some like to show off, while others would rather watch”, moving into more illustrative musings: “A bird’s song is like the loving words of a friend/A happy song that greets us every morning/And our hearts sing, too, because birds are like good news coming”. Eagles, owls, peacocks, and hummingbirds all find a home here, as do parrots, toucans, and Canadian geese. It’s a celebration of birds, of spring, and of nature. The endpapers feature bright and bold feathers, some that you’ll recognize right away, like the peacock’s; some, you may have to guess at (is that black and white spotted one a woodpecker or a guinea fowl?). Let the kids color some feathers of their own as an after-storytime craft.
Birds went over nicely in storytime. The kids loved the bright colors and enjoyed calling out birds they recognized. We made some bird sounds (honking for the Canadian geese went over well, as did the parrot caws) and spread our arms to soar and flap like the birds do. It’s a nice addition to picture books where nature and birds are popular.