CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 4. . . .September 27, 2013
Justine McKeen and the Bird Nerd is author Sigmund Brouwer's newest featuring elementary school student and environmentalist Justine McKeen and her elementary school friends. In this story, Justine and her friends take up the environmental issue of birds hitting their school windows and dying from the impact injuries. Justine and her friend Jimmy discover dead and dying birds, and they take the problem to the school custodian who explains the problem (it is a real problem!) and shows the kids how he helps to save the birds. When Justine is not satisfied, she goes to the City Hall and presents them with a solution which includes draping windows with film which looks opaque from the outside (to birds) but looks transparent from the inside (to people).
What is so interesting about author Brouwer's Justine McKeen books is that they are well-researched and offer websites for further reading into the issues and ideas his characters bring up. At the end of the story, a website is given which offers advice on caring for an injured bird, and an Audubon Magazine article that gives a description of the dangers posed to birds by windows.
The reading level of this book is ages 7-9. Children are interested in the environment, and the characters Brouwer creates are engaging and smart. Children will enjoy reading how the children cooperate to solve problem and share information to find solutions. The extra reading websites offered can help teachers, parents or students to learn more about specific parts of the book.
Robert Groberman is a grade one teacher at Katzie Elementary School in Surrey, BC.