Thursday, January 28, 2021

Review: Jenny's First Catch by Susan Sachs Levine

Today's book caught my eye thanks to the super sweet Roseate Spoonbill chick on the front. Isn't Jenny cute? This book hit my expectations and surpassed them...but I'm not writing my review here. You have to peek further down to see it.

I'm asking about birds...thinking about birds...wondering about birds. And believe it might soon be time to head to the zoo to see some like Jenny. Or I'd have to take a trip to the Everglades. Road trip, anyone?

An Adventure with Florida's Wading Birds
by Susan Sachs Levine
Illustrated by Irene Bofill
Mascot Books
Picture Book
38 pages
ages 4 to 8

Jenny wants to surprise her mom and teach herself how to fish. So, Jenny goes on an adventure through a mangrove estuary where she meets several different wading birds including a White Ibis, Wood Stork, Snowy Egret, and Great Blue Heron. Each bird tries to teach Jenny how to fish, but Jenny’s big spoonbill just won’t work like the other birds’ bills! Young readers will learn all about Florida’s wading birds, as Jenny discovers important lessons about perseverance and being true to herself.


                                                         * very cute illustrations
                                                         * tale with heart...and well-written
                                                         * great for story time
                                                         * offers tons of information about water birds
                                                         * teaches about bill shapes and purposes


Not only is this a super sweet story just as it is, but the author has done an amazing job at weaving in tons of bird facts and that without even slightly jarring the tale.

Jenny has fledged and can't wait to learn how to catch fish on her own. And that sparks an idea—she's going to impress her mother and catch one right away on her own. Realizing that she has zero knowledge and experience, she seeks out various water birds and asks them to help her out. But this whole catching fish thing might not be as simple as she expected it to be.

The cover caught my eye on this one...and my daughter's, too, since she immediately shoved the book into my hands and asked me to read it to her (and she's no longer in the intended audience age group.) This tale was surprisingly extremely well done. The story flows effortlessly and allows listeners/readers to sink right in. Jenny is simply a sweet bird, and it's hard not to like her as she does her best to give her mom a surprise. The other birds are kind and friendly, doing their best as well. And that's where even humor dips in.

Bird lovers and animal lovers are going to enjoy this one, too. While the story itself is amazing enough to hold its own, the author has build in water bird facts on the side of several pages. These 'bubbles' of information do not disturb the story, while reading it, but if a reader wants to come back and learn more about each type of bird, they can. The information in these is easy to understand while delivering a good overview about each species. Plus, the tale is all about Jenny fishing...and while that doesn't sound like much on the surface, it teaches readers about bill shapes without them even realizing it. I honestly can give extra kudos on this front.

The only slightly stumble I had (and my daughter) is on the last page, where each bird pipes up again. But that tiny-tinsy bit by no means whatsoever made me see this book in anything but a super-positive light. And on the last bonus material for teachers, homeschoolers and such....there is more than a little extra information offered, which opens up an entire session on learning about these birds. But since it's the last pages, that leaves this book open to simply reading for fun as well.

In other words, this book is getting an extra star from me.

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