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Nonfiction Monday: Bird Talk by Lita Judge

Bird Talk: What Birds Are Saying and Why
By Lita Judge

Roaring Brook Press

ISBN: 9781596436466
Grades 2-4
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You have your nonfiction that clearly covers the basics – here’s an animal, here’s where it lives, here’s what it eats – and then you have books like Bird Talk, where every page brings something unexpected. Richly illustrated and keenly researched, Lita Judge’s ode to ornithological communication makes a nice counterpoint to the more workmanlike nonfiction staples.

Tweet, chirp, caw, strut – when it comes to the purposes and sophistication of bird communication, there’s much more than meets the eye and ear. Bird Talk is broken into sections to make sense of it all. From the common American Robin singing hundreds of different songs to attract a mate to lesser known Scandinavian Fieldfares dropping poop missiles, Judge hits on a wide range of species and their lesser-known communication techniques. Back matter includes added information on every species covered in the book, a glossary, references, and a website to explore.

The detailed illustrations strike a nice balance between accuracy and character. The artwork is set against large expanses of white, allowing the text to draw the eye.

A bit of pleasure reading nonfiction for a wide audience. Bird Talk will make a lovely addition to your collection.

Review copy from the publisher.

Be sure to check out the Nonfiction Monday roundup at Check It Out.

Also reviewed by MotherReader, A Fuse #8 Production, Waking Brain Cells.

Read an interview with Lita Judge at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. Yes! The layout with lot of white looks appealing. This book is definitely on my “must read” list. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This does look great! It’s amazing to think how much bird talk has influenced the English language, including the words you mentioned. My colleagues and I played a game last year of what animal names were also English verbs and quite a few birds showed up!

  3. OMG, I love birds and don’t get why my kids are not into them. This book looks great and I’ve always heard wonderful things about Lita Judge. I’m not sure how we missed her! Going to get myself a copy!

  4. Thanks for sharing this beautiful book. I was just coming in from re-filling my feeders and bird bath when I revved up my laptop and this came in! My great-grandmother lived in a tiny town and did not drive, but she kept a poster of bird species on the back of her kitchen door and taught me to identify dozens of N. American species by their size, plumage, and songs.
    Birds are endlessly fascinating creatures–and I’m putting this on my list to read as soon as it’s available. Thanks again.