Bird Builds a Nest
Walker Books, 2018
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
It’s time for Bird to build a nest, but before she can begin she needs to find some food to give her the energy for the hard work ahead. But the first worm she finds is very large and juicy, and no matter how hard she pulls, she is not strong enough to pull it from the ground because it is pulling back. When she finally does get something in her tummy, she sets off to look for twigs – but some are too heavy or too long and she can’t carry them.
And so the story continues until her nest is built with successes and failures as she goes – and each one explained in simple language to teach young readers the very basics of the physics of forces. Physics is a hard topic to understand because so much of it is invisible and requires the sort of abstract thinking that little ones are not able to do readily, so starting with a context such as this and using simple language is a brilliant idea. The story is followed by an experiment using ping pong balls and modelling clay but no explanation is given to clarify the results.
While the illustrations mirror the text to provide a greater understanding, they are in a muted, retro palette that may not catch the eye or interest of young readers. Nevertheless, it’s worth sharing as part of the early childhood STEM curriculum simply because it makes the tricky concepts of force and pushing and pulling so explicit. However, it might be worth having some props on hand so the children can try things for themselves as they learn that size and weight do matter.
This is a companion to Fox in the Night which examines the phenomenon of light. Putting physics into the everyday world of the young reader through stories about common events is a wonderful way to pique and satisfy their curiosity, encourage them to explore further and ask more questions and seek their answers.