Did you know that baby robins’ feathers are covered by a sheath when they first emerge and that the birds have to remove the sheath? Or that robin parents remove the baby’s feces from the nest with their mouths? Robins: How They Grow Up is full of fascinating natural history details like these.
The book is told in the voice of two robin chicks. They chicks themselves, in the form of tiny cartoon drawings, provide further commentary in cartoon-style voice bubbles on every spread of the page. We follow the robin parents as they find their mates, hunt out a safe nesting place, build a nest, and lay their eggs. We see the robin chicks hatch and grow to adulthood. Along the way we meet robins’ predators (and the family loses two of their potential offspring!). We watch the chicks grow and learn how to fly and hunt. In the final spread, we see them join the other robins in flying south for the winter.
The language is accessible, and there are tons of fascinating facts throughout the book.
In the author’s note, Christelow tells about how a robin family built a nest in her gardening shed and how this sent her on the voyage of discovery that led to the book. There’s also a glossary, two pages of answers to questions about robins, and a list of sources.
While you wait for spring to reappear, this is a great book to pull out and read!
I’m looking forward to heading to California later this week, where I’ll present at the California School Librarians Association Conference. I’d love to meet you if you’re there!
Robins: How They Grow Up by Eileen Christelow. (Clairon: 2017).