Take a Breath – Sujean Rim

Sometimes something on your do to list starts climbing over all of the other somethings, eager to capture your attention. They think if they’re the loudest and can make you start to panic, you’ll set aside the dozen or so other things that are due first just to silence them. 

Sometimes when this happens, you might forget how important breathing is. But sometimes, just sometimes, life intervenes on your behalf. You pick up a book, look at the title and chuckle to yourself about the irony. This is that book.

Meet Bob, my new favourite feathered friend. Unlike the other birds, Bob can’t fly. Yet.

He doesn’t let being grounded get him down. He fills his time puzzling solutions to age old questions and getting to know the land dwelling locals. Bob also has good taste in music.

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I love Bob’s persistence and the creativity he applies to learning how to fly. Some of Bob’s more humorous attempts at taking flight involve a balloon, slingshot and springs.

Bob might be many things but, like most of us, he’s not immune to self doubt. What are some of the best things about Bob? He recognises when he needs help and is open to trying new things.

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Enter Crow, my other new favourite feathered friend. Crow empathises with Bob and is willing to share what helped them when they were in a similar situation. Crow is patient, kind and encouraging.

Bob and Crow teach (or remind) readers of the importance of mindfulness. By focusing on his breathing (sounds simple until you realise you’ve been either holding your breath or are on your way to hyperventilating), Bob is able to centre himself. 

The lessons in this book are easy to apply and realistic. A couple of really important things happen that make all the difference to Bob. Someone has cared enough to listen to his concerns and validated him, and the breathing technique Crow has taught him has quietened his mind and helped regulate his body. 

Do these things magically solve all of Bob’s problems? No, but he sure is in a better frame of mind to tackle them. 

Sometimes you just have to be grounded before you can fly. 

Thank you so much to Allen & Unwin for the opportunity to read this picture book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

An anxious baby bird who fears he’ll never learn to fly gets a lesson in mindfulness in this funny and sweetly encouraging picture book about believing in yourself.

Every morning, the birds are flapping with excitement for their first flight of the day … except for Bob. Bob doesn’t get the whole flying thing; when the other baby birds go up, up, up, he goes down, down, down. Bob can’t help worrying … what if he never learns how to fly? 

His friend Crow tells him, “All you need to do is breathe, Bob.” Of course, Bob breathes all the time, but there’s breathing and then there’s B-R-E-A-T-H-I-N-G. And it might just be the thing to calm Bob’s ruffled feathers.

There are Birds Everywhere – Britta Teckentrup

Text – Camilla de la Bedoyere

Anyone who’s known me for more than a couple of days has likely heard me talk about birds. For a number of years I was able to get to know an incredible range of different birds, from kookaburras and butcher birds to currawongs and magpies. Their distinct personalities delighted me and I ended up naming most of them. Over time, they learned to trust me and even flew to me when I called me their names.

Suffice it to say, I’m always going to want to read books about birds, especially when there are new fun facts to absorb.

Covering just some of the over 10,000 species of birds that currently take to the skies around the world (and the few who have chosen instead to walk), this book teaches readers about their anatomy, where they live and what they eat. 

Tracing the evolution of birds throughout history, from the dinosaurs to today, I read about many I’d never heard of before. My favourite was the <i>Argentavis</i>, a predatory bird with a wingspan of six metres!

There is more detailed information about the lives of specific birds, including barn owls, emperor penguins and Arctic terns.

Of course, I did have a few favourite facts.

A bald eagle’s nest “can weigh as much as a small elephant!”

Of the sandgrouse, who live in the desert:

Males sit in waterholes where their feathers soak up water, like a sponge. Then they fly back to the nest and the chicks suck on their feathers when they are thirsty.

Arctic terns fly the equivalent of three return trips to the moon during their lifetime. That’s 2.4 million kilometres!

The facts are bite sized and the illustrations are beautiful. My favourite illustration featured a barn owl swooping down in the night sky. This was exactly the type of book I would have borrowed from the library for school projects.

Thank you so much to Allen & Unwin for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

There are birds everywhere! Some of them live by the sea, some of them in the savannah, and some might live in your roof.

There are Birds Everywhere is the fourth in a series of non-fiction books from Britta Teckentrup. Young readers will learn where in the world all sorts of birds can be found and all the weird and wonderful things about them that they never imagined were true.

With an added search-and-find element, this is non-fiction with spark and personality from a much-loved illustrator.