Several times in the past few weeks, I've found myself stopping and re-reading one particular new picture book. It's non-fiction, aimed at a very young audience, by an unlikely author: John Berendt, best known for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. This one's called
My Baby Blue Jays. A pair of blue jays chose the balcony outside Berendt's Manhattan home office to build a nest, and the author snapped pictures from the first checking-out-the-neighborhood visit through nest-building, egg-sitting, baby-feeding, and babes going out into the wide world. The tone of the book is gently conversational. "After a few weeks, three little blue jays were born," reads one page. Then:
They settled into their new home and were very curious about anybody, like me, who took a close look at them.
At last he reached the top step. And he looked out through the gate at the sidewalk. Once again, he looked first to his left. And then to his right.
I'm obviously fond of this book because it has to do with children leaving the nest, which mine have recently done, although it took them considerably longer than these jays to make the jump. But there's more than that. It's such a friendly book about urban nature. I have misty memories of a pigeon family on the fire escape at your parents' apartment one year, and their fascinated tracking of the birds' progress. One feels so graced by these small folk making themselves at home. It's such a lovely thing to share with a child, snuggled up reading.