Ten Zany Birds
Written by Sherry Ellis
Illustrated by Charu Jain
42 pages Ages 3—5
Ten zany birds, singing in a tree,
dance at a party, happy as can be.
Five with stripes, fours with spots,
one with purple polka dots.
“When ten little birds get together, it’s a feathered festival! The party would last forever, if none of the ten friends were so easily distracted. One by one, each little bird finds something new to do. Some see other animals to play with. Some get hungry, and one stinky bird really needs a bath. Who’s going to be left in the tree at the end of the party? A spotted bird, a striped bird, or the one with purple polka dots?” [back cover]
Ten Zany Birds is a very colorful picture book. One-by-one the birds leave the tree, followed by a short poem that marks the bird’s departure and notes its type of feathers. The rhyming poetry is, for the most part, on meter. A sentence or two jumbled my tongue, but the rhyming is actually pretty good. Why am I surprised? Because rhyming is hard to do correctly. Add in a picture book, with a cohesive story and rhyming becomes extremely difficult to pull off. Ten Zany Birds is one of only a handful of non-traditionally published children’s books that succeeds.
The beautifully created, watercolor and pen illustrations are by first-time illustrator Charu Jain. The detail on each spread is amazing. I love the expressive eyes on each bird and the variety of bodies. The wings point like arms but looks natural. The same can be said for the beaks. These zany birds have a load of animations ranging from calm to down-right zany. One is even hanging upside down with goofy eyes. Young children will adore these Ten Zany Birds. I want to hang out with each bird. If anything makes Ten Zany Birds stand out it are the illustrations. Terrific!
There is one problem with the spreads that I am so surprised to see. The text looks like it’s pasted on top of the illustration with a white sticker. This leaves a white square box where there should be art. I found these boxes distracting and amateurish. There is plenty of space to place the text into the spread, while preserving the art. The problem in execution is from poor planning and design.
Ten Zany Birds is more than a rhyming story about birds leaving a party. The author intends to teach “. . . children from age 3—7 will be introduced to counting and basic subtraction skills . . . (and) the application of simple classification rules.” I agree Ten Zany Birds will help kids learn to subtract, and add in reverse, but “classification rules” I am not so sure about. The repetitive verse, after another bird leaves the tree, will help children learn to read, but classification? No.
“Two zany birds
singing in a tree,
dance at a party,
happy as can be.
“One with stripes.
None with spots.
One with purple
One bird leaves, leaving the last bird. The choice is either a striped bird or the purple polka dot bird. This involves a process of elimination. Had children needed to organize the birds by a characteristic, then I would agree with classification. Just a question: What is the difference between a spot and a polka dot? Children will be asking, because the spots and the polka dots are identical, sans color.
Overall, Ten Zany Birds is well-done, with amazing illustrations, beautifully written poetry, and a bird countdown children will enjoy. This a good afternoon read, or depending on the child’s excitability, a good bedtime story, as—maybe—the birds leave the “party” because it is bedtime. Actually, I would have loved that scenario. Yet, kindergarten teachers can use Ten Zany Birds for not only a good story time book, but also to practice basic subtraction. Kids will love this lesson. At home, children will enjoy the story, love the illustrations, and want to hear Ten Zany Birds ten or more zany times.
TEN ZANY BIRDS. Text copyright © 2015 by Sherry Ellis. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Charu Jain. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Createspace, New York, NY.
Find Ten Zany Birds on Goodreads HERE.
Copyright © 2016 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
TEN ZANY BIRDS by Sherry Ellis. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Charu Jain. Used by permission of Sherry Ellis.
Full Disclosure: Ten Zany Birds by Sherry Ellis & Charu Jain, and received from PUBLISHER, (an imprint of COMPANY), is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”