I adore Henry Cole’s illustrating style… In fact, if you’ve followed my Instagram page since the beginning, you might remember that Spot, the Cat by Cole was the third book I recommended! I also featured the sequel, Spot and Dot, last fall when it was released. So, you can bet that when I was offered the chance to read his newest, Nesting, by Harper Kids, I jumped on that offer! And, Nesting lived up to my extremely high expectations. Read on to see just what makes it a delight on both the eyes and the ears.
I’m going to start by addressing the illustrations, which I usually save for the end… but Henry Cole’s signature pen and ink drawings deserve the front-and-center attention. Y’all, they’re just spectacular.
Illustrated almost solely with Cole’s immaculately detailed thin black lines, bits and pieces of robin’s-egg blue do emerge as we follow the robin family’s journey over the course of the year, building as their story does. We spent hours pouring over the details in these illustrations (counting the eggs, determining what the parents are feeling the baby birds, hypothesizing what kind of trees the birds are in, and more)…
But our conversations about the story and the illustrations converge when we started to talk about the blue. My girls adeptly noticed that Cole’s use of the blue detail comes and goes as the storyline changes. At times, the sky is this bright blue, and of course, the robin’s eggs are indeed robin’s-egg blue. But, the illustrations are black and white again when a storm hits, for example, or when a predator attempts to steal the eggs. These changes neatly parallel the mountains and valleys of the robins’ experiences, setting the mood for the audience and helping us understand robins’ lives.
So, what exactly is the storyline of Nesting? Cole allows us an up-close insight into the cycle of a year, from a robin’s point of view. We start with two individual robins, a male and a female, who sing to both keep other robins away AND to attract a mate. We follow as they build a nest, start a family, and protect and nourish their babies (my girls’ favorite page is definitely the spread of 12 shots of the parents flying back and forth, back and forth, to feed their babies). We celebrate the triumphs of sending the babies out of the nest and cheer them on as they learn to fly, but our hearts also race with anxiety when the predator comes a little too close for comfort.
Beautifully illustrated and accessibly written, Cole’s Nesting is a terrific introduction to the ins and outs of a bird family. Be sure to check out the Author’s Note, full of information about both baby and adult robins. A big thank you to Harper Kids for sharing this book with our family in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions of this book are my own. All links for purchase are Amazon Affiliate links. Thank you for considering making a purchase through my links!