Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Mama Built a Little Nest

Mama Built a Little Nest

Jennifer Ward
Illustrator:  Steve Jenkins 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Simon and Schuster, 2014   ISBN: 978-1442421165

Typically when we think of nests we think of bird, and birds do indeed build nests so that their eggs and chicks can be kept safe. These nests come in all shapes and sizes. Some are built on tree branches, others, like the nests of some woodpecker species, are made in tree trunks.

   Some birds live in places where trees are scarce and they have to find a different sort of home for their young. Cactus wrens built their nests on cactus plants, where the thorns serve as a good deterrent for animals that might like to eat the wren’s eggs or chicks. Burrowing owls also live in a part of the world where trees are few and far between. They dig burrows or use abandoned burrows that other animals have dug. Underground, where it is safe and cool, they can lay their eggs in peace.

   Water birds often have a unique set of challenges when it comes to nest making. Female grebes solve many of these problems by making a nest that they then puts on the water “to create a cozy boat.”

   Some birds live in parts of the world where there aren’t sheltered places to build nests or materials to build them out of. Emperor penguins live in a  Antarctica where there are no trees and no materials for nest building. The penguins have found a unique way to solve their nesting problem; they use their feet. The female rolls the egg onto her mate’s feet soon after it is laid. The egg “stays buried under his tummy folds for about sixty days, warm and protected.”

   Throughout this book, rhyming verse and sections of informational prose are paired with beautiful cut paper illustrations to give young readers a sense of the many inventive ways that birds have developed so that they can create some kind of shelter for their young.

   A “note from the author” at the back of the book helps readers to understand why the author wrote this book, and children will appreciate how much she loves and values birds of all kinds.