Written by Aaron Reynolds
Illustrated by Matt Davies
Published by Roaring Brook
Every once in a while a book comes along where the author and the illustrator are so in sync with each other that the book feels as though it just appeared out of the ether, fully formed. There’s no sign of struggle or of difficulty in creation. (I’m told it’s the reason many publishers would prefer to work with authors who illustrate their own work.) Buddy and Earl is such a book. So is This is Sadie.
Add to that list Nerdy Birdy, in which Aaron Reynolds and Matt Davies display a kind of mind-meld.
Nerdy Birdy has glasses and a birdseed allergy, and he does not fit in with the cool birds: Eagle can throw a football like nobody’s business, Cardinal is a glossy red, and Robin can spot a worm at fifty feet. One day, Nerdy Birdy is approached by another birdy, also nerdy, who wonders why our hero pals around with a group with whom he has so little in common. “They don’t even like you,” he says. Nerdy Birdy is introduced to a new group, one which shares his interests in reading, video games and eye-wear. Finally he has found his place in the world!
Things take an unexpected twist, however, with the introduction of a vulture who is also spurned by the cool birds. Nerdy Birdy invites him to join his new group, but will they accept her? She doesn’t wear glasses. She doesn’t love Star Wars. What does she eat, anyway?
Reynolds’ prose is conversational and razor sharp, with a biting wit. He dissects a class structure that will be familiar to anybody who’s gone through any level of schooling, worked in an office environment or, you know… Lived in the world. Aimed at a grade school audience who is likely just beginning to see these divisions forming amongst their peer groups, Nerdy Birdy is essential preparatory reading.
Davies’ pen and water colour artwork is brilliant, matching the writing joke for joke and incisive observation for incisive observation. Each spread is peppered with pop culture references (you can play Spot the Dalek with your kids…) and sight gags. (The coding t-shirt worn by one nerdy bird is especially desirable.)
A book that opens the door to conversations of bullying and the dangers of group think, Nerdy Birdy is very funny and very timely… And very recommendable.
Kinderlit requested and received a copy of Nerdy Birdy in exchange for an honest review. Read more about our Review Policy HERE.