In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Leaving the nest

Dear Annie,

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.

Note expression of baby.  Their parents feed them a lot, and then one (presumed male) hops out of the nest, onto the balcony, and very precipitously to the ground two floors below. ("As he fell, he fluttered his wings frantically.  Not enough to fly, just enough to slow his fall a little.")  Berendt abandons all pretense of getting any work done and stalks this little adventurer with his camera.

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.

He eventually leaves for the wide world.  Berendt ends with a picture of an adult jay in his backyard, "but by now he looks so much like the other grown-up blue jays that I'm not sure which he is."

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.



1 comment:

  1. Hawks recently made their home on the ledge of John Sexton, NYU president, and there was a webcam set up, accessible I think thru the NYTimes to view it. Eventually at least one chick hatched and also left the nest. It was the subject of much commentary on the NYTimes site.

    Also, Storied Cities currently has some posts (and a giveaway) about urban nature.