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Spit and Sticks: A Chimney Full of Swifts

by Marilyn Grohoske Evans

Horn Book This informative book follows a pair of chimney swifts as they arrive in Texas, build their nest in a farmhouse chimney, raise their chicks, and fly south for the winter. Attractive watercolor collages add extra meaning by showing the farmhouse humans (not mentioned in the narrative) engaging in parallel "nesting" activities, preparing for and welcoming a new baby. Additional facts about chimney swifts are appended. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly A biracial family of three prepares to welcome a new baby boy while swifts nesting in the chimney of their quaint Texas country home raise their own fledglings. In calming prose, debut author Evans keeps the narrative focus on the birds ("Chittering, the fledglings jubilantly feast and frolic, consuming tons of insects"), letting the human family's story play out silently in Gsell's soft, loose watercolors, which include digitally collaged elements. Together, Evans and Gsell convey the quiet intersection of human and animal life, while an endnote offers more detailed information about the migration of chimney swifts. Ages 3-7. Illustrator's agent: Susan Cohen, Writers House. (Sept.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list One spring in Texas, a chimney swift flies back from South America to the farmhouse where it was born. In the chimney, the swift and its mate build a nest, and the female lays three white eggs. Three weeks later, they hatch. Eating all the insects their parents can bring them, the young birds grow up quickly, and soon they are trying their wings and flying about the farm with their family. In early winter, the swifts join a flock flying southward. The text is simple and informative, but it tells only part of the story in this appealing offering. Created with broad brushstrokes of watercolor and including digital elements, the vivid illustrations also show people on the farm: a father, mother, little girl, and (around the time the swifts' eggs hatch) new baby brother. There's little direct interplay between the human and avian families, which is realistic. But those scenes, such as the father and daughter waving at the fledgling birds, become a rewarding part of the visual narrative. An engaging, informational picture book.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2015 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Kirkus While a pair of swifts raises a family in their chimney, a Texas family grows as well. The straightforward text in Evans' first picture book follows a family of swifts from the pair's return to the chimney of the farmhouse where they were born through nest-building, egg-laying and hatching, and feeding their chicks, who eventually fledge, fly, and feed themselves. In fall, the birds take off, joining a swarm of swifts heading for their winter home in the Southern Hemisphere. This simple narrative focuses exclusively on the birds, but it is mirrored by the activities of the mixed-race farming family shown in artfully primitive watercolor illustrations (with collage elements). One page shows the birds building their nest inside the chimney; opposite, the human father and daughter construct a crib while the visibly pregnant mother knits. While the birds "snuggle close" on the eggs, the human father reads to his daughter on his lap. A striking double-page spread shows the chicks emerging from their eggs. On the next pages, "It's a Boy" balloons fly from the farmhouse mailbox. Throughout the summer the baby grows ever more capable, just as the chicks do. An endnote includes further information about swifts and suggestions for readers to learn more and help preserve these interesting birds. A clever connection to the natural world for young readers and listeners. (Informational picture book. 3-7) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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