The Classroom Bookshelf
Inside The Classroom Bookshelf

A Nest is Noisy

A Nest is Noisy
Written by Diana Hutts Aston; Illustrated by Sylvia Long
Published by Chronicle Books, 2015
ISBN # 978-1452127132

Grades K and up

Book Review

The award-winning duo that brought us An Egg is Quiet, A Rock is Lively, and A Seed is Sleepy has extended their nature series with another gorgeously written and illustrated informational picture book. In A Nest is Noisy, Diana Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long invite us into the amazingly diverse world of nests. From the first set of endpapers to the last, Hutts Aston and Long tantalize readers with an astonishing assortment of nests in all shapes and sizes, made up of a fascinating potpourri of materials, and constructed by a captivating host of creatures. Hutts Aston’s lyrical prose does not disappoint, exploring the array of nests and associated animals with fresh insight and delightful descriptions. While birds such as the ruby-throated hummingbird have nests that are “chirp-chirping,” the honeybee’s nest is “buzzing,” the American alligator’s nest is “squeaking,” the fox squirrel’s is “peep-peeping,” and the gourami’s is “bubbling.” Long’s intricate, yet graceful, watercolor illustrations and hand-lettered labeling beckon closer inspection as well. Exploring more nests, from that of the army ant to the orangutan, Hutts Aston and Long detail the texture, size, and other sensory qualities about each. Not just for nature enthusiasts, A Nest is Noisy is a rich and highly appealing addition to any curious reader’s bookshelf.

Teaching Invitations

Nest Text Set. To deeply explore the concepts of eggs and nests, use a solar system model to gather a set of texts. As students read the texts, provide a set of guiding questions to frame their inquiry: What qualities and processes are described? How are they presented similarly and differently in each text? As a whole, what information is still missing that your students want to know? Have your students research that information and write their own informational text that fills in the gaps in the text set.

Nests in the Neighborhood. Challenge students to locate the kinds of nests that already exist immediately around them. Provide them with iPads or other digital photography tools, and take them on a community walk around the school, neighborhood, or local park. Encourage them to find and photograph as many different kinds of nests as possible, especially nests of different animal species. Share the photographs with the class, and have them identify the kinds of nests they collectively located. Make sure they discuss similarities and differences—such as size, shape, materials, locations—among the various nests.

Building Nests. The feats of architecture and engineering that go into building nests are often spectacular. Have students inquire into the materials and processes that different animal species employ to build their nests. Then, divide students into small groups armed with select materials and skills you provide. Challenge them to use the knowledge they gained about constructing nests to build their own nests. For fun, you might also encourage them to assume the identity of a new animal species and then explain to the class how their group’s nest suits that species well.

Describing Nests. What is particularly impressive about this book is how the text uses lyrical language to describe nests in fresh ways. Show students some videos of animal nests, such as Animal A to Z: Nests, Animals’ Homes, Birds’ Nests – for Kids, or the PBS Nature series on Animals: Nests. Have students jot down notes as they watch about the nests’ sights, sounds, style, creation, etc. After viewing the videos, have students work to turn their notes into unique, but still accurate, descriptions of some of the nests they saw.

Names of Nests. Just as the nests of different species are uniquely designed and built, the names of those nests are distinct as well. Students may already know that a bee’s nest is called a hive, but do they know that a wasp’s nest is called a vespiary? Have students research and compile a list of nest names. As a class, analyze those names to see what connections they may have with other words they already know. For fun, challenge students to a quiz game about nest names.

Illustrating Nature. Sylvia Long’s watercolor paintings allow her to illustrate the intricacies of the natural world with a soft, subtle quality. Other artists use other media to illustrate nature; for example, Eric Carle uses  tissue paper, while Molly Bang uses gouache (a thick type of paint), and Melissa Sweet uses mixed media to make collages. Have students study the illustrations in a variety of nature picture books, such as High Tide for Horseshoe Crabs and Buried Sunlight. How does the particular artistic medium used allow illustrators to finesse the details they want to represent? How might a particular illustration look similar or different if another medium was used? Give students an assortment of artistic media to select from, and take them outside to try their hands at illustrating nature.

Further Explorations

Online Resources

Dianna Hutts Aston’s website
http://diannahaston.com

Sylvia Long’s website
http://www.sylvia-long.com

PBS Series – Animal Homes, The Nest (Episode 1)
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/animal-homes-the-nest-full-episode/11868/

YouTube videos about animal nests
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WELyDx3uBMM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xwi0tBRRcQ

Amazing Bird Nests
http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150307-the-16-most-amazing-bird-nests
http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2014/01/27/5-animals-that-are-awesome-architects/

NestWatch – The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
http://nestwatch.org

BioKids
http://www.biokids.umich.edu/guides/tracks_and_sign/build/

Books

Aston, D. A. (2006). An egg is quiet. Ill. by S. Long. Chronicle Books.

Boring, M. (1998). Birds, nests, and eggs. Cooper Square Publishing LLC.

Jenkins, P. B. (1995). A nest full of eggs. Ill. by L. Rockwell. HarperCollins.

Roemer, H. B. (2009). Whose nest is this? Ill. by C. McLenna. NorthWord

Swinburne, S. R. (2002). Safe, warm, and snug. Ill. by J. Aruego & A. Dewey. Harcourt.

Yolen, J., & Stemple. H. (2015). You nest here with me. Boyds Mills Press.

Grace Enriquez About Grace Enriquez

Grace is an associate professor of language and literacy at Lesley University. A former English Language Arts teacher, reading specialist, and literacy consultant, she teaches and writes about children’s literature, critical literacies, and literacies and embodiment. Grace is co-author of The Reading Turn-Around and co-editor of Literacies, Learning, and the Body.