What do a baby blue jay, a kitten, a girl, and a baby squirrel have in common?
They are emphatically curious about the world.
They find it difficult to leave the place where they feel safest.
And, eventually, they must all spread their wings and fly.
With his ever-inventive art, Caldecott winner Mordicai Gerstein stretches the boundaries of the traditional picture book, here using speech balloons to show all the characters talking at the same time and energetic pen-and-watercolor illustrations in this celebration of growing up. Leaving the Nest is a 2008 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
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Mordicai Gerstein is the author and illustrator of The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, winner of the Caldecott Medal, and has had four books named New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year. Gerstein was born in Los Angeles in 1935. He remembers being inspired as a child by images of fine art, which his mother cut out of Life magazine, and by children’s books from the library: “I looked at Rembrandt and Superman, Matisse and Bugs Bunny, and began to make my own pictures.” He attended Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, and then got a job in an animated cartoon studio that sent him to New York, where he designed characters and thought up ideas for TV commercials. When a writer named Elizabeth Levy asked him to illustrate a humorous mystery story about two girls and a dog, his book career began, and soon he moved on to writing as well as illustrating. “I’m still surprised to be an author,” he says. “I wonder what I’ll write next?” Gerstein lives in Westhampton, Massachusetts.From School Library Journal:
PreSchool-Grade 2—In this spirited bit of backyard psychodrama, a kitten, a baby blue jay, squirrels, and a girl on a bicycle each balance in uncertainty and expectation on the brink of new freedoms. The baby jay wants to fly but fears leaving the nest; the kitten longs to explore the big world outside the house; the girl teeters on her new bike. Each tastes the brash possibilities of liberation. Each narrowly escapes disaster: the kitten is chased up a tree; the jay tumbles out of the nest; the girl takes a spill. But in this backyard, there are literal and figurative safety nets in the encouraging hands of mothers, both human and avian. So the day ends safely in the deep satisfactions of newfound accomplishments, with the baby squirrel vowing to leave the nest tomorrow. The brief, clear text is in speech balloons, allowing the characters in the performance to speak for themselves. The jay's repeated refrain, "But I will never leave this nest!" gives a humorous cadence to the tale. The warm palette and the energetic line of the paint-and-ink illustrations convey both the thrill of curiosity and the certain security of home. Heartening as well as thematically and artistically assured.—Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Old Greenwich, CT
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