A robin’s animal friends help build her nest in this cumulative collage picture book from Caldecott Honor recipient Denise Fleming.
Robin is building a nest, and her friends are ready to help! The squirrel trims the twigs. The dog brings the string. The horse shares his straw. And then a surprise gatefold spread reveals how Robin knits them all together to make a safe and cozy home for her babies.
Denise Fleming has written and illustrated numerous celebrated books, including 5 Little Ducks; Go, Shapes, Go!; underGROUND; SHOUT!; Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy; Time to Sleep; The Everything Book; Alphabet Under Construction; Count!; In the Tall, Tall Grass; In the Small, Small Pond, which received a Caldecott Honor; and This Is the Nest That Robin Built. She lives in Toledo, Ohio, with her husband, David Powers, with whom she often collaborates.
A robin’s nest is fabricated with a little help from a squirrel and other familiar animals. Each creature contributes a key ingredient to make a sturdy abode for the bird in which to lay her eggs. When the eggs hatch they quickly grow into nestlings, “tuffed and pink,” rapidly turning into fledglings ready to spread their wings. The proud mama watches as her young ones fly for the first time. Richly hued illustrations are mixed media done using a printing technique and collage. They are expressive, textured, and show various perspectives. Vertically oriented pages support the illustrations, calling to mind the height of a tree, and are accompanied by a cumulative, alliterative, and rhyming text done in the familiar cadence of “The House That Jack Built.” VERDICT A handsome choice to welcome spring and new life that will read aloud well with a group or in an intimate setting.
– School Library Journal, January 2018
Like a fresh spring breeze, Fleming’s cumulative tale celebrates a favorite symbol of the season, a robin’s nest. Beginning with a squirrel “who trimmed the twigs, not too big,/ that anchor the nest that Robin built,” Fleming (5 Little Ducks) introduces several animals that provide the materials the bird needs to craft the resting spot for her “eggs, brittle and blue.” The verse is saturated with alliteration and internal rhymes (“This is the mouse/ who gathered the weeds, dotted with seeds,/ that bind the mud, soft not soupy,/ that plasters the straw, rough and tough...”), and the collage illustrations gain bold, mottled textures from the varied printmaking techniques Fleming used to treat the paper before assembling them. When the nestlings, “tufted and pink,” finally arrive, a foldout spread reveals all of the work that went into the nest; small vignettes show Robin combining twigs, string, straw, mud, and more to put it together. Fleming’s nature scenes pulse with electric shades of green, highlighting the hive of activity that precedes the arrival of a newborn (or three).
– Publishers Weekly, January 22, 2018
A mother robin builds a nest with a little help from nearby creatures. It starts with the squirrel, "who trimmed the twigs, not too big, / that anchor the nest that Robin built." Then the dog brings string, the horse shares straw, the pig mixes mud, and so on. It's a riff on the classic rhyme "This Is the House That Jack Built," but Fleming keeps the text fresh with additional rhyming adjectives. Whether "not too big," "long and strong," or "soft not soupy," each new item Robin receives has its own specifications. Thus, the cumulative story expertly reinforces narrative comprehension while also building vocabulary. Fleming combines her signature printmaking techniques with collage to make beautifully textured illustrations filled with natural tones and repeated patterns. The creatures are mostly to scale, some fitting within the book and some extending beyond its pages. Though the animals change with each page turn, readers will enjoy spotting the tiny ladybugs hidden in each illustration. The narrow portrait trim size expands with a final gatefold that flips the structure of the verse to conclude with the new, "rumpled and ruffled" fledglings flying away—a satisfying conclusion. An avian revision of a classic rhyme that soars. (Picture book. 3-7)
– Kirkus, 2/15/18
A celebration of bits and pieces, of process, and of creation, this picture book describes how a robin builds a nest, shown through collage art that mirrors the bird’s methods and cumulative verse that pays homage to “The House That Jack Built.” “This is the squirrel who trimmed the twigs, not too big, that anchor the nest that Robin built.” The dog supplies string, the horse provides straw, the pig mixes mud, the mouse gathers weeds and seeds, the rabbit picks grass; from this sequence (i.e., “with a little help from her friends”), the robin constructs a perfect nest to house three eggs, which hatch into three nestlings. On the next spread a gatefold opens to carry readers back through the litany of steps the robin took to build her nest. The story closes as the baby birds, deftly rendered with cut paper and fluff, bravely leave the nest: “…now young fledglings, rumpled and ruffled, and ready to fly / Good- / bye!” Fleming’s introduction to nest-building and the life cycle of a robin takes a gratifyingly holistic view of the process. The jaunty rhythm of the text and the large, vibrant illustrations full of detail, along with a supporting minor cast of insects and other creatures, make for a lively story to share individually or with groups.