Let’s Read Three: Robin Books!

Spring has apparently squashed my life, or at least my blogging ability. But, I am attempting to resurface with this silly trio about a little creature that has captured our attention the most this spring. Robins were one of the first things we noticed as spring hinted its arrival and they became a very delightful sight for my girls to point out every time one crossed our path in the busy city. They are such friendly birds with their bright orange tummies and spirited hopping about. Robins won’t let you ignore spring and all the changes it signals. So let’s read three books about robins!

1. Robins and Rabbits by John Hawkinson, 1960.

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This is a vintage book that I know virtually nothing about except that once I saw it, I loved it. It is dripping with charm, delightful creatures, and breathtaking watercolor and ink illustrations.

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Published in 1960, the book has the cost-effective black and white pages every other spread. It is a strange feature as it greatly diminishes the impact of those particular, colorless spreads; but it also makes you gasp for breath on each color-filled page turn. Hawkinson’s brushstrokes, minimal details, and color-layering are definitely the things that continually draw me back to this book.

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The story is a simple one, with half a phrase or even just a few words sprinkled on each page. It opens with a rabbit, discusses all the other animals that abound in the woods, builds up to the plentiful amount of robins that grace the woods, and ends on the fact that there are always more rabbits than robins as rabbits have so so many family members!

2. Apples and Robins by Lucie Félix, 2016.

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Click on the image to view an animated page turn revealing the clever die-cuts.

This delightful book is a French import thanks to Chronicle Books. Originally published in France in 2013, Chronicle has beautifully reproduced this book on stunning uncoated paper, with sharp colors and shapes, and die-cuts that wow.

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Click on the image to view an animated page turn revealing the clever die-cuts.

Ms. Félix wrote this book about the European robins that live in her garden year-round. I love the way she hints at each season based on the robins and the apples’ presence, ending with the arrival of spring.

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The simplicity of the pages and shapes coincides excellently with the telling of the story through the simple ingredients needed to pick apples with a ladder and a basket, make a birdhouse, have a storm that disrupts everything, and then how to rebuild and await the arrival of blue eggs, birds, and apples once again.

3. Round Robin by Jack Kent, 1982.

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So, this is the most bizarre, blunt, not-exactly-spring-themed book of the bunch; but you’ll have to forgive me it because I adore Jack Kent creations and I think the book is hysterical. And it is about a robin, so of course.

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The story goes that a certain robin was hatched and he liked to eat, a little too much actually. He became known as Round Robin. His eating habit made him too fat to fly. So when all the other birds migrated south for the winter, Round Robin had to hop along, brave icy roads and dangerous confrontations with trucks and foxes, no food, and working very hard until he finally is thin enough to fly the rest of the way.

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When he arrives and reunites with his flock, he is so hungry that he eats and eats and eats some more until he finally resembles his name once again. And as it turns out, his trek took all of winter, so just as he arrives and rests, the flock heads back home and Round Robin begins the journey all over again.

I actually love the odd picture book that doesn’t have a smidgen of moral or point. Jack Kent’s spare illustrations are just right for Round Robin’s tale. Kent had great skill for simple, expressive characters and excellent comedic timing. And to be perfectly honest, I love this ending to the book trio because while I love robins and was initially enthusiastic to see them; spring continues to trek on and I find myself dreading the oncoming heat more and more and feeling the stretch of continual work ahead of me. Then I think of Round Robin and quote:

So Round Robin sighed a deep sigh
and started on the trip back north.
Hippety, hoppety, boppety, BUMP.

Press on friends. Enjoy the robins crossing your path and be encouraged as the seasons come and go, the work never stops, but “Hippety, hoppety, boppety, BUMP” you may go!

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