Early Birdy Gets the Worm: Bruce Lansky & Bill Bolton
June 03, 2014
Book: Early Birdy Gets the Worm
Creator: Bruce Lansky
Illustrator: Bill Bolton
Age Range: 2-5
Early Birdy Gets the Worm is billed by the publisher, Meadowbrook, as "A PictureReading(TM) Book for Young Children". The end flaps include a User's Guide for Parents and Teachers on using PictureReading books (with pictures telling the story) to support storytelling with young kids. The guide says: "The ultimate goal of PictureReading is to turn over to the child the role of figuring out the plot points and connecting them with a narrative thread as soon as possible." So, something like a wordless picture book that is meant for the child to lead the reading of, instead of the parent taking the lead. An early reader without any words, if that makes any sense.
For me, however, a book has to be judged on how good it is, not on what the intentions are. It needs to be a book, rather than a "parenting resource". And in the end, I liked Early Birdy Gets the Worm as a wordless picture book, but I didn't love it. It's the story of a young bird who is inspired by seeing his mother pull a worm out of the ground to try to do the same thing himself (with less than successful outcomes). Bolton's illustrations are gentle, and convey a mild humor, though his backgrounds seem overly simplistic.
I think that Early Birdy's setbacks will make kids laugh, even as they feel a bit protective of the fuzzy brown chick. For example, he see a bit of pink poking out of a tree trunk and pulls, only to find an irate mouse at the other end. The expressions of the characters are slightly exaggerated, to make sure that kids can follow the story.
I found the conclusion to Early Bird Gets the Worm disappointing, however. He's never able to get a worm himself. He goes back to his nest, and then his mother brings him a worm. The message feels like: Try, but don't worry, if it doesn't work out, Mommy or Daddy will take care of you. And while this is doubtless true in most cases, I found it unsatisfying in a narrative sense.
I will try this one out with my four-year-old daughter. And thinking about this book has inspired me to try to be a bit more interactive when reading with her, to encourage her to tell the story. Early Birdy is definitely cute. But I'll be surprised if Early Birdy Gets the Worm lands a spot on our regular re-reading list.
Publication Date: May 6
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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