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Robins!: How They Grow Up

Eileen Christelow
Clarion Books
48 pp.
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Every year, many millions of American robins migrate from the southern United States and Mexico to the northern U.S. and Canada to breed. The males travel first, covering hundreds of miles to find and defend a suitable breeding place until the females arrive. Robins! tells the story of one robin couple and their offspring over the course of the breeding season. Suitable for children between about 5 and 8 years of age, it provides an accessible and engaging account of the robin family’s life.

My 7-year-old son particularly liked the conversation of two young robins who comment on the events in speech bubbles. Young readers can follow the story by reading these speech bubbles, either on their own or while listening to the story as it is read to them.

The story is unflinching in its portrayal of some of the dangers that the robins encounter: To my son’s shock and indignation, a squirrel steals and eats one of the eggs. Later, the young robins manage to escape from a cat, but one of them is not so lucky when a hawk hunts for food for its own young.

The pictures are beautifully drawn, with details that will help children relate to the story. For example, the robins build their nest on a hoe in a garden shed. For the nest to be protected, the people living at the house must take care not to move the hoe. In another picture, children play in the distance, helping young readers to connect the events to their own lives. A brief fact file at the end provides accessible details about robin biology for children interested in learning more.