Take a well-put-together board book (don't worry about it being a board book - no one is
going to say that they’re a bit too old for a board book once they see it), add exquisite
pictures of a dozen birds - one on each double-page spread - and then fill in the details.
You'll need the name of the bird in English and Latin and a description of the bird in words
which a child can understand but which won't patronise an adult. Then you'll need details
of where the bird is found, what it eats, where it nests, how many eggs it lays, how the
male and female adults differ and their size. Then you need a 'Did you know?' fact and this
needs to be something which will interest children, but which adults might not know either.
Does it sound simple? Well it isn't, but The Little Book of Woodland Bird Songs does it
perfectly. And there's a bonus, but I'll tell you about that in a moment.
The pictures are beautiful - they bring the birds to life and you can really see the details,
from how the feathers lie and the shape of the beak through to how the claws grip a
branch. There's a wide selection of birds too - the long-tailed tit, great spotted
woodpecker, cuckoo, nuthatch, willow warbler, goldcrest,buzzard, jay, woodpigeon, coal
tit, pheasant and tawny owl. It's a careful selection - in most parts of the country you're
likely to encounter some if not all of the birds.
The details are clear - you'll know where to look for each bird and sometimes that's an aid
to identification. You'll recognise the eggs - but please restrict this to looking at the broken
shells rather than into nests. But it's the 'Did You Know?' facts which I loved. Did you
know that the domed nest which a long-tailed tit builds may take as long as three weeks
to construct and is lined with around 1500 soft feathers? Or that jays bury nuts in the
autumn and return to them when food is scarce in the winter?
But I was going to tell you about the bonus, wasn't I? My great delight is being able to lie
in bed of a morning and listen to birdsong - or to take a walk in the woods and just
‘’listen’’ to the sounds around me. Well, to the right of the pages is a panel with pictures of
all the birds in the book and when you press the picture you hear the bird’s song and the
quality is really excellent. We get a lot of wood pigeons coming into the garden and I could
easily have believed that the sound was coming from the outside. The recordings are
battery powered but don't worry about little fingers getting to the battery - you need one
of those very small screwdrivers which you can never find when you need one to open the
battery compartment. It just goes to prove that you are never too old for a board book -
or a sound book for that matter.
– The Bookbag