Jorey Hurley
ISBN 9781442489714
Paula Wiseman/S&S, 2014.
5 stars
Keywords: birds cycle-life family jorey-hurley nature nest

by Jorey Hurley

With only 14 words in an astonishing picture-book debut, author and artist Jorey Hurley takes youngest children through the life cycle of a robin. On every spread, just one word appears, and Hurley uses each composition to place young readers' focus on the main event.

A bird carries a twig. The red of its breast, matching the book's title, identifies it as a robin. That twig becomes part of the first full spread (with one word, "nest," also in red). The layering of the tiny twig strands creates the birds' home, and simple geometric shapes introduce the major players and the set--an oval blue egg, the cozy circle of the nest, yellow triangles for the parents' beaks.

On the next page, the word "warm" prompts youngsters to play detective. Its placement also helps unlock the mystery. "Warm" appears across from the mother robin that incubates the (now unseen) egg; raindrops fall all around the nest, but pink buds on the branches indicate it's a warm spring rain. In subsequent pages, a peach-toned featherless bird bursts through the blue egg ("hatch"), the mother feeds the nestling a worm ("grow"), and soon the fledgling soars over the treetops ("fly"). Hurley wisely chronicles the passage of the seasons through one family's experiences in one tree, and occasionally introduces interlopers--a hummingbird, evidence of humans via a kite ("surprise"). In the closing spreads, a fourth robin alights on the tree, and the cycle begins again. A quiet masterpiece.

This review first appeared on Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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