Cover image for Bird talk
Bird talk
Jonas, Ann.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Greenwillow Books, 1999.
Physical Description:
32 pages : color illustrations ; 24 cm
Portrays a variety of birds and their calls, using the "memory phrases" that birdwatchers have devised to help them hear and remember birdsongs.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC BK. Juvenile Fiction Childrens Area-Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



When children get their hands on this book, they are sure "to really read it, to really really read it." Or so says the magnolia warbler. And the magnolia warbler is not the only one with an opinion. There are sixty-three bird species talking their way through this funny backyard story.

Author Notes

Ann Jonas was born in Flushing, New York in 1932. She attended Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York. After graduation, she worked in graphic design and married fellow Cooper Union graduate and graphic artist Donald Crews. When her husband's military service took them to Frankfurt, Germany in 1963, she worked for a German advertising agency. They moved back to New York and started a freelance design business where she continued to focus on graphic design and her husband focused on illustrating children's books.

After being urged by her husband and his editor to try her hand at creating picture books, she wrote and illustrated When You Were a Baby in 1982. Her other works include Round Trip, Now Can We Go?, The Quilt, Color Dance, Aardvarks, Disembark!, Splash!, Watch William Walk, and Bird Talk. She died on September 29, 2013 at the age of 81.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 5^-7. Gathering from birders and birdwatching guides dozens of "memory phrases" used to identify characteristic bird songs, Jonas constructs a series of funny conversations between members of about 65 common avian species: greedily watching a garden being seeded, a Brown Thrasher comments, "Plant-a-seed, drop-it"; a mockingbird suggests, "Eat-it-all, eat-it-all"; a Wild Turkey agrees, "Gobble, gobble, gobble"; and an American Redstart chirps, "Chewy-chewy-chewy." Similarly, crows passing over a road call out, "Car! Car!"; a Common Nighthawk captions a backyard picnic with "Pork, beans"; and a Northern Cardinal at a feeder asks the musical question, "What-chew, what-chew, birdy-birdy-birdy?" The birds are depicted with distinct, easily identifiable features, and are named at the back. Tempt children with this book, Audrey Wood's Birdsong (1997), or the relevant pages of Peter Spier's Gobble, Growl, Grunt (1971) to listen to the natural outdoor sounds around them with new ears. --John Peters

Publisher's Weekly Review

Jonas (Aardvarks Disembark!) records here, alongside accomplished artwork, the sounds of various birds as memory phrases coined by ornithologists to help us hear and remember bird songs. Every spread presents a roundup of species, each issuing his characteristic call. For example, a sunrise scene shows birds in a natural setting greeting one another with cartoon bubbles such as Wide-a-wake! (Sooty Tern), Hey Al! (Razorbill) and Hiyah Hiyah Hiyah Hiyah (Herring Gull). But at other times, the birds ostensibly react to contrived situations, as when the birds appear to be talking to a classroom filled with children (Teacher Teacher Teacher Teacher, says the Ovenbird, while the Magnolia Warbler cries, To Really Read It, To Really, Really Read It); yet the children seem deaf to the commotion outside their open window. With no story line or supporting text, other than the birds sounds, readers without prior knowledge of the feathered creatures may have difficulty discerning whats real from what is artificial here. Jonass finely detailed illustrations of the bird species, however, will please both novices and seasoned birdwatchers. Ages 3-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-A clever idea that doesn't quite fly. Jonas bases this chatty little picture book on "memory phrases" or words that naturalists often use to recognize and remember bird songs. The ever-playful author takes the notion a step further by putting the birds in situations in which their calls or repeated phrases may seem appropriate. For example, the book starts at dawn with a solitary sooty tern calling, "Wide-a-wake!" and a mockingbird echoes its greeting. As the day progresses, an ovenbird on the window ledge outside a classroom is overheard saying, "Teacher, teacher, teacher, teacher," while a chestnut-sided warbler calls out, "See, see, see, Miss Beecher, please, please, pleased to meet'cha," and a magnolia warbler laments, "To really read it, to really, really read it." The problem is that the songs are rarely so simple or straightforward. Jonas's bird groupings and behaviors are highly improbable and may confuse rather than inform readers. The full-color watercolor and black-pen artwork is certainly accomplished and appealing. Unfortunately, readers have to flip to the back of the book to identify the birds on each page. While encouraging young nature lovers to listen to and learn to identify the sounds around them is certainly an admirable goal, Bird Talk is apt to frustrate more potential wildlife lovers than it recruits.-Luann Toth, School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.