Counting down one by one, 10 birds fall off a branch.
The concept of this picture book is simple enough: 10 birds topple, slip, and dive their way off the titular twig until there is one left. The text itself echoes familiar singsong-y children’s rhymes like “Five Little Pumpkins.” While it mostly succeeds, there are some awkward spots: “5 on a twig, there used to be more… / SNAP! Don’t say a word, now there are four.” (On each page the number is both spelled out and represented as a numeral). The real scene stealer, however, is the book’s interplay between Cole’s illustrations and the physical pages themselves. In much the same way Eric Carle utilizes the pages in The Very Hungry Caterpillar to show the little critter eating its way through the week, Cole uses pages of increasing width to show how the twig grows shorter as each bird falls and marches off purposefully with the others, all headed toward verso with pieces of twig in their beaks. Stylistically, the book is captivating. The very colorful, egg-shaped birds appear on a single, thin black line on a stark white background. This backdrop stands in powerful contrast to the book’s final two pages, which are set against black negative space, a theme echoed in the book’s feather-print endpapers. The heavy, thick pages make it easy for little hands to participate. The text takes a back seat to the playful and compelling design, which is sure to delight readers.
Who knew that turning the pages could be the best part of a book? (Picture book. 2-4)