Recommended for ages 4-8
Ten little birds discover a scary shadow outside their door – what can they do? One by one, the birds rally together to create different beasts using the clothes in the closet, each shape becoming more amorphous than the last, with increasingly wild names to accompany their shapes: we have Vicious Polka-dactyls, a Gnashing Grapplesaurus, a Frightening Vipper-Snapper, and more. Will the monster be more scared of them than they are of him and leave the birds alone?
Ten Birds is a concept book meant for a slightly older child, due to the more elevated language. We go beyond counting here, althoug counting from one to ten is certainly the basis for the story, and delve into adjectives and wordplay. Every bird is described with an adjective as he or she jumps in to help: “always resourceful”; “always diligent”; “always creative”. Each concoction the birds come up with is also defined with an adjective, allowing the opportunity for a good discussion about adjectives and describing words. This would be a fun enhancement to an English lesson in addition to a Math lesson.
The story is repetitive,which appeals to younger readers. The black and white ink and paper artwork is spare and beautiful, with beautiful detailing on the birds’ faces and bodies. The white background and framed pages make this an art book almost as much as it is a concept book for children. The font is a simple, black font on the white background, giving the sign that this is a read-aloud book – no fancy or fun fonts to distract the reader or the audience.
Ms. Young has written and illustrated an earlier Ten Birds book – Ten Birds – where the birds encounter a problem and have to solve it with their own wits, much like they do in Ten Birds Meet a Monster. Ten Birds received the 2011 Governor General’s Award for Illustration. The Birds series is a good one for young readers and I look forward to seeing what other predicaments Ms. Young can find for these birds. Maybe a board book for little hands and minds next?