Review of The Nest That Wren Built

The Nest that Wren Built by Randi Sonenshine and Illustrated by Anne Hunter

Who doesn’t love excellent poetry? Especially when it’s focused on birds and nests and hatchlings? Especially when those hatchlings are baby wrens? Ahem, spoiler alert: stay tuned for a little wren story of my own I will post here in the coming days.

When we lived in the South, we had a pair of Carolina Wrens who regularly roosted in our screen porch rafters. During building seasons or feeding seasons, we had to remember to leave the screen door open, so the birds could fly back and forth to tend their nests. Watching from the windows, we saw the birds return to the rafters hour after hour with twigs, leaves, and an occasional string. Then we watched them repeat the cycle as doting parents feeding their brood until their babies were two weeks old. We looked so forward to fly-away day to see the babies emerge into the world. One fly-away day a small hatchling was terrified by our interested large dog (unaggressive with the bird, though not the mailman). In her panic, one baby trapped herself between the porch railings and the screen, while her increasingly desperate parents tried to lure her out.

Eventually my husband donned a pair of gloves and lifted her out to her raucously joyful parents. They all flew to the forest together. Then a miracle happened. Those parents flew back to my husband, swirling around his head, and chittering at him. If I had not seen it happen, I would never have believed that a bird could say, “Thank you.” As it happens, the last fly-away day we were able to witness was on our last day in that wonderful home. Our own fly-away day.

What I love about The Nest That Wren Built is the way Randi Sonenshine utilizes brilliant rhyme to offer us detailed pictures of the wrens in their care of nest and nestlings. Where else could you find a phrase featuring the words “spidery rootlets” or “reptilian charm”? Sonenshine is brilliant at this sort of phrasing, and she does it with such natural grace that both the rhythm and meaning of the text merge fluidly to create beautiful imagery.

And speaking of imagery, the illustrations that Anne Hunter delivers in this picture book are breathtaking. Observant readers will enjoy searching for the little ant and other friends on every page.

This text has quickly risen to my pick of the month from our library haul. We just had to have a copy of our own! Thank you, Randi Sonenshine and Anne Hunter, for such a beautiful, quiet book.

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