________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 17 . . . . April 29, 2005


Birdhouses. (Kids Can Do It).

Renée Schwartz.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2005.
40 pp., pbk. & cl., $6.95 (pbk.), $14.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55337-550-5 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55337-549-1 (cl.).

Subject Heading:
Birdhouses-Design and construction-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3 and up / Ages 8 and up.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4


Building birdhouses is a great way to get chickadees, bluebirds, swallows, wrens and many other kinds of birds to nest in your backyard. And with fewer old trees around for birds to nest in, building birdhouses is not only fun, it's important.

The simple woodworking skills you need to make these birdhouses are easy to learn, even if you've never used a hammer or saw. And don't worry if your first houses are a bit lopsided the birds won't mind.

Most of the houses can be made in an afternoon and will last for years. Be creative and change the designs or sizes, but always make them safe for the birds. Check the chart on the inside back cover for help adapting the projects to different birds.

Building birdhouses is fun, but the best part is when birds nest in them. The sky's the limit!

Schwarz, who has contributed three other titles to the "Kids Can Do It" series, specifically Making Masks, Funky Junk and Papier-Mâché, now turns to assisting young readers in building nine different birdhouses. Schwarz begins by introducing, both in print and via illustrations, the materials and tools (only one power tool - a drill) that will be needed to complete the building projects. Appropriate to her intended audience, she also provides "Safety notes." Although young readers will want to immediately jump to the projects, they should be actively encouraged to spend some time in the three pages related to "Woodworking techniques" where Schwarz again refers to safety before briefly discussing "Work surface," "Clamping," "Sawing," "Drilling," "Nailing" and "Screwing." Before turning the junior woodworkers loose on the birdhouses, she also provides a page of "Tips for mounting and care" of the finished feeders. On the book's final page, Schwarz supplies a chart detailing how to change the birdhouses' designs to accommodate other bird species.

     Each of the nine birdhouses is introduced via a full-colour photo of the finished product, Under the photo, Schwarz lists the needed materials and their quantities, plus the tools needed to complete the project. Illustrated step-by-step instructions then guide the readers through each birdhouse's creation.

     For me, one of the most surprising birdhouses was the "Robin's delight" as I've found this bird's nests everywhere around our yard, even on top of a porch light fixture, and I didn't ever think of actually providing an open face nesting box for them. Another bird I've never viewed as a birdhouse dweller is the nuthatch, but Schwarz's "Tree house" provides a most rustic nesting place.

     While wood is the basic building material in all of the birdhouses, Schwarz also uses some less conventional materials. She transforms a clay flowerpot into a house for wrens while perforated corrugated plastic drainage pipe is converted into "Space condos" for purple martins. For those who like to recycle, an old high top boot forms the basis for a chickadee's nesting site..

     In addition to being an obvious addition to school or public libraries, Birdhouses is a good home purchase. As well, leaders in youth groups, such as Scouting or Guiding, should consider adding the book to their craft libraries.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's and adolescent literature in the Faculty of
Education, the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.