In this bedtime book that begs to be enjoyed over and over again, master writer Jane Yolen and her daughter and fellow birder, Heidi E.Y. Stemple, offer a rhythmic and cozy story that doesn’t disappoint. Rhyming couplets often are a mixed strength in children’s books, but in You Nest Here with Me—part field guide, part bedtime story—the language and refrain are spot on. Unique word choices and lovely depictions of birds and their nesting sites keep the warm and fuzzy story from being too cloying.
Each page presents a bird family settling down for the night. Terns call as they look for a place to settle on high cliffs above the sea, and the mouth of a tiny wren pours out its song as the mother bird perches by the cattail-wrapped nest. Illustrator Melissa Sweet uses mixed media and brilliant, clear shades of watercolor and gouache to create collages that are a feast for the eyes. From seashore to mountaintop, from wetlands to forest, birds find places to nest and rest.
The story’s end is all the reassurance that any child needs, especially at bedtime: It is a wide world, but “till you’re big as big can be . . . You’ll nest right here in our house with me.” Comfort and the opportunity to learn and grow seamlessly combine, appealing to parents and children alike.
Billie B. Little is the Founding Director of Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, a hands-on museum in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.