Title: The Bird in the Herd
Author: Kathryn Apel
Illustrator: Renée Treml
Publisher: University of Queensland Press – UQP
Publication date: March 2, 2021
Themes: Rhyme, farming, visual literacy
Additional notable information: Teachers’ Notes can be downloaded from the UQP website. There is also a fabulous Activity Pack that caters for a diverse range of learning styles. This Activity Pack is chock full of fun and creative activities as well as games. Some of the activities included involve: creating finger puppets, imaginative play that has been designed to get students moving and is inspired by the animals in the story, as well as a manipulative play idea where children are invited to create a miniature droving scene to recreate the story.
The Bird in the Herd by Kathryn Apel and Renée Treml is a delightful picture book that will captivate readers as they are transported to a farm with a cast of animals. This story is written in cumulative rhyming verse with couplets added before repeating the previous verses. This lends itself to children enthusiastically joining in as they become familiar with the repetition and rhythmic text. The rhyming words are boldly coloured in primary colours.
This story begins with a herd of cows who stir the slugs and bugs. A bird takes advantage of this situation as it spies these critters and swoops down to eat the slugs and bugs (notice the illustration where the reader sees the shadow as the bird approaches the land). This sets off a chain of activity on the farm and the reader is introduced to a dog, horse and drover going about their business until the serenity is broken with a noisy visitor which creates a ruckus on the once peaceful farm.
The astute reader will delight in the bright, lively sun-soaked illustrations as they observe additional information about life on the land.
This story lends itself to:
- Exploring poetic devices such as rhyme and onomatopoeia
- Extracting meaning from the illustrations and ‘reading the pictures’. The illustrations add another layer to this story.
- Discussions about the ways in which animals help each other. Egrets are often spotted on farms close to cows so they can consume the bugs the cattle disturb with their feet. They also sit on cows for a better vantage point to spot the insects. This is a springboard to further explore other symbiotic relationships that exist in the animal kingdom.
- Consider natural and man-made events (man-made like the twist that happens at the end of the story) that can influence the behaviour of animals and the impact on a farm, for example, in terms of crops and livestock.
- Children further exploring the daily routines of farmers. Perhaps students could connect with children living on rural properties and compare and contrast their days and way of life with each other.