I’m not a nerd—no, really—but some of my best friends are.

coverI’ve been a birder since I was 17 and took my first ornithology class. And although I don’t go birding nearly as often as I used to, I am still drawn to most anything to do with birds. So it was only natural to pick up a book called Nerdy Birdy by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Matt Davies. That and the cover art just sang to me.

Nerdy Birdy is, well, a nerd. he reads, plays video games and reads books about video games. He has small wings,  wears oversized glasses, and has allergies to things birds shouldn’t have allergies to. And naturally, he wants to hang with the cool birds—Eagle, Cardinal, and Robin.

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They roundly dismiss Nerdy when he tries to share with them.

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Left alone as Eagle, Cardinal, and Robin pursue their cool bird activities, Nerdy discovers that there is a group of birds that welcome him to their flock. They have glasses that are too big, wings that are too small, they like to read and play World of Wormcraft. They sport light sabers and goofy hats and shirts with geeky messages and Rubik’s cubes and bow ties. They are just like Nerdy! And it is so nice to be included and part of a group. Who cares about the cool birds when you are surrounded by birds that think YOU are cool.

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When a new bird moves into the neighborhood, the cool birds shun her just like they did Nerdy. The new bird has some unusual characteristics and Nerdy cheerfully invites her to join the nerdy bird flock, much to the horror of the other nerdy birds. They count down the ways the new bird does NOT qualify as a nerdy bird and refuse to allow her to join. This puts Nerdy—who really likes this new bird—in a dilemma.

This story about being part of a group and not being part of a group is somewhat predictable, but it is handled in such a genuinely fresh and funny way, it really doesn’t matter. It is engaging and absurd and poignant. A great combo.

The art is wonderful. I mentioned above about the cover art singing to me. It is rendered in pen and ink and with watercolor washes. The inking is wild and  a little spasmodic and looks like it was done with maybe one cup too many of coffee. But it is perfect. I have serious inking envy for this work. The washes are subtle and earthy and work very well with the inking. And Davies characters are charming without being cute. Pretty removed from cute, really.

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This is a book about being left out of and about being part of a group, and figuring out what is important as far as friendships go. And it does it well and in an hilarious fashion.

-kevan ‘put a bird on it” atteberry

21 Comments:

  1. Oh, man. I’d seen this online but not in person yet. A must have! “World of Wormcraft” *snort*

  2. I need to read this book. I love that the characters are birds.

  3. Hey Jill…how about the “I eat bookworms for breakfast.”? It sounds like this story delicately teaches a moral w/o being preachy, and it looks and sounds like it will be a “hoott” to read! A great story to share with Elementary students!

  4. Oops….I misspelled hoot. Sorry, I was typing from my phone.

  5. Oh, I am rolling! That art and those one liners! So good! Will definitely pick up. Thanks!

  6. Text sounds so funny and lovery the artwork#

  7. Thank you, Kevan, for sharing a book that I must read! The art and text do a perfect tango. Off to order for my library!

  8. Nerdy Birdy is my kind of bird!

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    Amanda Sincavage

    Great post! I really enjoyed this book as well!

  10. This looks to be a must read – I can’t wait to see what illustrations drawn with one cup too many of coffee look like!

  11. I’m adding this one to my collection!

  12. I love bird watching! Sounds like a great book!

  13. This book looks wonderful — and I share your inking envy with these illustrations. So great! Thanks for sharing this, Kevan. (I also adore anything with birds, too — Portlandia got it so right).

  14. Yes, I reviewed this book when it first came out. There is so much in it and it works on so very many levels. Kevin, thanks for reminding me. I think I’ll check it out again….

  15. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book. It sounds wonderful!

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    Kathy Mazurowski

    Nerdy Birdy is a FAVORITE. I have hand written out the text to help/inspire/use as a model, but still working on a manuscript.

  17. This looks so fun, Kevan. I love the illustrations. And speaking of bird nerds, I spent yesterday afternoon watching some Ruby Throated Hummingbirds get banded. 🙂

  18. Thank you, Kevan! I got this book out of the library last week and loved it, too!

  19. That last picture was me in the 6th grade. 🙂

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