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Friday, July 1, 2016

Charming Story Draws Us in to Chick’s Birth

Welcome to Day #10 of the On Bird Hill Blog Tour!

To celebrate the release of On Bird Hill by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Bob Marstall (5/10/16), blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from Jane, Bob, and Brian Sockin (CEO and Publisher of Cornell Lab Publishing Group), plus 10 chances to win a copy of On Bird Hill and a window bird feeder!

On Bird Hill
Written by Jane Yolen and Illustrated by Bob Marstall
Cornell Lab Publishing Group, 2016

“On Bird Hill” by Jane Yolen is a lovely story told in verse that begins with a panoramic picture of Bird Hill and page by page draws in closer as a boy narrator takes notice of a chick hatching from its egg.

“As I was walking on Bird Hill, though it was day, the moon shone still,” the story begins early in the morning. We see a two-page spread of a hilly lime-green landscape. In the bottom right hand corner, a boy walks with his dog. In the top left hand corner, a tiny sliver of moon shines over the scene.

Then page by page, we pull in closer noticing more details as the words draw us closer to the boy’s discovery.

“And on Bird Hill, I saw a tree, as light and bright as it could be.” In the distance, we see a tree glowing.

“And on that tree, so shining bright, I saw a trunk, both dark and light.” The reader also notices other details such as birds flying overhead, seals sunning themselves, and a rabbit poking its head out of a river.

Yolen loosely based her story’s structure on the old cumulative children’s song, “The Green Grass Grew All Around.” Like the old song, her story has a satisfying rhythm. Its shape is useful in emphasizing the magic of noticing small everyday miracles in nature, such as the birth of a bird.

“The chick was tiny, shell was thick, but crick, crick, crack he was so quick.
“He hatched himself and left the egg, he fluffed his wings, he stretched each leg.”

At the end of the story, Yolen shifts to the chick’s perspective and brings her story full circle.

“He saw the twig, limb, trunk, and tree, and then he saw the moon ...
... and me, as I walked down Bird Hill.”

The full-spread, spring-colored illustrations by Bob Marstall perfectly complement Yolen’s story. Echoing her words, he begins with a broad perspective and page by page draws in closer to the hatching of the chick. The illustrations of the chick’s birth express the newborn bird’s wonder and joy, and his mother’s quiet love. The observant reader can find many delightful details on every page.

 About the Author and Illustrator:

Jane Yolen has authored more than 350 books, including the Caldecott-winning Owl Moon, which every budding young ornithologist owns, You Nest Here With Me, which is a popular new favorite, and the New York Times bestselling series How Do Dinosaurs. Jane Yolen’s books have been translated into over 20 languages and are popular around the world. Janes husband, David Stemple, was both a well known bird recordist and a professor of computer science and he taught the entire family how to identify birds. Many of Jane’s books are about wildlife subjects, especially the winged kind. Jane lives in Easthampton, MA. Visit her online at

Bob Marstall is the illustrator of nine nonfiction children’s books, including the The Lady and the Spider, which sold over a quarter-of-a-million copies and was a Reading Rainbow selection. Bob has also been honored with an ALA Notable; an IRA Teachers’ Choice; a Smithsonian Magazine Notable Book for Children; and three John Burroughs selections.
In addition, two of Bob’s books are included in the New York Times Parent’s Guide’s “1001 Best Books of the Twentieth Century.” Bob Lives in Easthamton, MA. Visit him online at

About the Cornell Lab: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a world leader in the study, appreciation, and conservation of birds. Our hallmarks are scientific excellence and technological innovation to advance the understanding of nature and to engage people of all ages in learning about birds and protecting the planet.

A Note from Jane Yolen

My family has a long history with the Cornell Lab. It began with my husband David Stemple's passion for birding.

At first, he was a Lister, that is he went out with his bird book(s) and made lists of the birds he'd seen, annotating various behaviors and where he saw them. Like many listers he had notebooks of how many birds he saw in a day, or in a week, or in a month, or in a year.

But as he was a scientist himself, with degrees in math, physics and a doctorate in Computer Science, just making lists and observing behavior wasn't enough for him. He took a couple of courses in the science of birds at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst where he taught computer science. He met Don Kroodsma and learned from him how to record birds. And that led him quite naturally (and nature-ly) to Cornell.

Once he saw how they were processing their mammoth amounts of data--on 3x5 cards I believe--he created their first ever computer database system pro bono for them. And began giving them his recordings. And then he got involved with studying ring ouzels, giving scientific papers on their dialects from Scottish glen to glen, from Norwegian fjords, etc.

Somewhere along the way, he mentioned to his friends at the Lab that he was married to me, and that I was the author of Owl Moon (which you may not know is big in birding circles!) and that he was the original of Pa in the book and our daughter Heidi--a great owler by the way--was the prototype for the child. . And the fact that of my over 350 books (mostly for children) a great number are on nature topics and over a dozen--counting upcoming books as well--are specifically about birds.

When David was dying of cancer, Greg Budney and other folks at the Lab came out and wired our deck so that David's last three months in a hospital bed in our TV room were filled with bird song. (And the occasional hough of a bear going by.) After he died, I started a scholarship in his name for the Lab that had to do with recording birds.

I think that short history is why, when Cornell decided to put out a dedicated line of children's books, they thought of me early on. And I jumped at the chance to be involved. My first book for them is On Bird Hill and the two that will follow are On Duck Pond and On Gull Beach. We are also talking about a kind of companion book to Owl Moon called Bird Boy and possibly a couple of other books as well. I will keep writing them if they will keep publishing them.


Today is the the last stop of the tour! Check out the other blogs below for more chances to win!

Blog Tour Schedule:

June 20th – The O.W.L.
June 21st — The Book Monsters
June 23rd  — MamaPapaBarn
June 24th — Rockin' Book Reviews June 27th — Kristi's Book Nook
June 28th — Books My Kids Read
June 29th — Word Spelunking
June 30th — Cracking the Cover
July 1st — Can You Read Me a Story?

Loosely based on the old cumulative nursery rhyme/song “The Green Grass Grew All Around,” a nursery rhyme first published as a song in 1912. But in this version, it’s a boy and his dog who find the bird in a nest on a hill in a strange valley. Following in the footsteps of Jane’s highly acclaimed Owl Moon, winner of the prestigious Caldecott Award, On Bird Hill is a beautiful picture book with an enchanting story, fancifully illustrated by renowned artist Bob Marstall. On Bird Hill is sure to attract interest from millions of readers and fans of Jane’s popular classics.


  • One (1) winner will receive a copy of On Bird Hill and a Window Bird Feeder ($28.99) to get up close and personal with the birds in your backyard! Great for blends, peanuts and safflower, this durable feeder attaches right to your window pane with suction cups, allowing you to see every bird detail. It's easy to fill and easy to clean.
  • US only
  • Ends July 10th at midnight ET
  • Enter via the rafflecopter below
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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