- I Hatched! by Jill Esbaum
In rhyming text, a newly hatched killdeer chick documents his first day in the world as he learns to run, checks out his physical appearance, scavenges in the dirt for lunch like Mama, and experiences his first poop (“I stop because … look out below!/ Something’s falling from my … Oh”). All this information comes in handy when a baby sister hatches that evening, and he assures her that he can teach her everything she needs to know—or almost everything: “Hey, wonder what these flappy things are for?” he queries on the last page. Esbaum’s text is as quick-paced and lively as the killdeer chick himself, and the well-crafted rhymes are amusing as well as informative. Unfortunately, Corace’s ink, watercolor, and pencil images are sometimes too busy and the chick’s figure too undefined for a text that focuses on the specific details of a real bird’s appearance and actions. Also, in most of the pictures, the chick’s “white” body parts (quite snowy on a real bird) are confusingly rendered a pale robin’s-egg blue, nearly the same shade as the pond water into which he peers. The chick himself is cute and personable, but it is sometimes tricky to pick him out against his similarly colored backgrounds, making this challenging for large-group viewing. Still, resourceful adults with access to bird guides and photos of actual killdeer can supplement the art after sharing the entertaining and instructive text.