Each little bird has a part in nature's grand scheme: the earth tilts, the seasons change,
and songbirds arrive in new places just as insects hatch, fruits ripen, and flowers bloom.
In this story, two plucky young birds launch into their first journey, which proves to be full of challenge, peril, and wonder.

Illustration from Two Little Birds by Mary Newell DePalma
My story is loosely based on the migration of Orchard orioles from the Northeastern North America
to Central America. They have to cross the Gulf of Mexico, a daunting 18 hour non-stop flight!
It is a brave and wondrous adventure. Read my blog post about this story.

Horn Book Magazine
Two adorable bird siblings (based on the orchard oriole of North and Central America)
hatch and begin their first year of life. Each milestone they encounter--
a joyful entrance into the world, mild perils on the way to their wintering grounds,
and the happy ending of finding mates--is portrayed effectively
through the soft colors of DePalma's emotive mixed-media illustrations and
simple, reptetitive-sound sentences that explain the actions of the birds
and underscore the instincts that drive each behavior.
"The little birds did what little birds do. They fed, they frolicked, they grew."
The images, such as that of the two exhausted birds flopped over a tree branch
after thousands of miles of nonstop flight, are quite effective
in evoking emotions familiar to readers to underscore the science concepts.
Danielle J. Ford
Rating: 2 (superior, well above average)

Publisher's Weekly
...Her lyrically told story opens with the birth of two birds in a nest
assembled from layered scraps of paper: "The little birds did what little birds do.
They fed, they frolicked, they grew." After the birds witness a nocturnal migration,
they join right in, their golden bodies shining against purple-blue skies thick with clouds.
When the birds are tossed, "rumble flash boom," by a storm,
collaged bits of roadmaps underscore their disarray;
just before they attempt to cross the Gulf, DePalma pictures them as dark specks
on an immense beach beneath a vast, clear sky: "Now what do we do?"
The birds eventually reach their tropical destination and make the return trip without incident—
stronger and ready to start a new family.
The subtext that the young and tiny are capable of remarkable feats won't be lost on readers. Ages 5–9.

Booklist
*Starred Review* Two eggs lie in a nest until they hatch and two little birds emerge. Soon sporting yellow feathers, "The little birds did / what little birds do. / They fed, / they frolicked, / and they grew." One night, a great flock of birds flies overhead. The two birds join them, flying far beyond familiar sights, through a thunderstorm, and across a sea. Though the two little birds lag behind, they keep flying southward until they reach their tropical destination. Eventually, they fly home, build nests, and have eggs of their own. An appended author's note identifies the birds as orchard orioles migrating from the northeastern U.S. to the Yucatán Peninsula. Variations on the lines quoted above form a unifying refrain throughout the lively, graceful text. Like the writing, the mixed-media collage artwork is strong, delicate, and precise. While there's no sentimentality here, children will feel the fatigue of the droopy little bird flapping its aching wings to stay aloft over the sea. The vivid pictures vary from the mottled, rain-stitched clouds during the storm to the verdant, tranquil oasis across the sea. The succinct text is accessible to young children, making this a great picture book to remember when teachers request stories of migrating birds. Preschool-Grade 1. --Carolyn Phelan

School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1—... The luminous colors, winsome expressions, and glorious textures of DePalma's mixed-media collage illustrations round out the spare, lyrical text.—Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD





Watch me read Two Little Birds with some of my friends!

ReadBoston StoryWalk

ReadBoston made Two Little Birds into a StoryWalk along the Rose Kennedy Greenway
in August of 2014. That was fun!

 

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