On Bird Hill by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Bob Marstall

On Bird Hill is a marvelous, meditative, playful rhyming picture book Jane Yolen and illustrated by Bob Marstall. Both Yolen and Marstall have a gift for putting the natural world on the page and that shines through in On Bird Hill, which also has a thread of the fantastic running through it, with pleasant surprises tucked throughout. But the coolest thing about On Bird Hill? It's the debut title in a new series created for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology with 25% of the net proceeds supporting children's educational and community programs centered on ornithology.

Loosely based on the cumulative nursery rhyme "The Green Grass Grew All Around" with words by William Jerome and melody by Harry Von Tilzer, Yolen's couplets follow a boy as he walks his dog and sees a newly hatched bird. On Bird Hill begins, "As I was walking on Bird Hill, / Though it was day, the moon shone still," signaling something special. 

Marstall's illustrations are pastoral and wondrous, with smooth rolling hills and curious trees with curly leaves and tiny, round red fruits. Colorful insects dot the branches and leaves while life on land and sea bustles. Sail boats drift by, picnickers arrive by canoe and animals graze in the green fields. When the couplets arrive at the bird in her nest, the illustrations deepen. A close up of the nest shows the hatchling inside the egg, kinda creepy but kinda cool. And when the egg hatches, the inside of the shell shows a starry night on the island, Magritte style. As the hatchling "left the egg / He fluffed his wings, he stretched each leg," and Marstall instills a little humor into the story.

On Bird Hill has the look and feel of a classic and little listeners are sure to ask to have it read out loud over and over.

Source: Review Copy

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