We love doing book reviews especially when we come across a true gem with creative illustrations, a good story line and meaning beyond great characters. Nicola Muir’s Baba Didi and the Godwits Fly is just that kinda of “gotta-share” book we like to bring to our readers. We were provided a free copy of this book to review but the post is not compensated and the opinions that I’m about to share are in fact all mine. Actually, just before typing this up, my daughter asked me to read her this story again before taking her nap… and I’m glad I obliged because once again it lifted my spirits and helps me to stay on track despite the continual distractions that surround me.
So here’s the deal, Baba Didi tells the story of the Godwit birds to her grand-daughter explaining that they represent something far more than a small brown bird on a long journey. This story, as told as a light-hearted conversation between grandmother and grand-daughter, delivers a message of resilience, perseverance and overcoming adversity in away that children can understand. In her explanation to Isabella, Baba Didi relates her own story of migration to this 18,000+ mile journey of the Godwits.
Illustrator, Annie Hayward, beautifully captured the little birds and their bigger message. Love the colors through out and facial expressions on what appears to be canvas artwork. Lovely! My favorite illustration is that of a city with boats docked and airplanes in the sky, about 1/2 way through the book, where Ms. Hayward offers a peaceful greeting between sea and shore. My daughter took an extra long pause on the page illustrated by a Croatian immigrant family departing on a colorful boat and be waved off by another family on the shore.
Additionally, we love a story that can showcase some geography without the boring lessons of “this is here and that is there”. In this story children learn that the Godwit birds fly to and from places in Russia, Argentina, China and New Zealand. And while Baba Didi and the Godwits Fly doesn’t take you around the world with them, it does offer the opportunity for further discussion and exploration of these countries and cultures.
Suggestions to couple with the reading of Baba Didi and the Godwits Fly:
- Create small paper Godwits and place on a globe or map highlighting places they migrate (Japan, Korea, US, New Zealand, Australia, China, Russia, Argentina). Talk about which of these places you’ve been or learned about. What is something you’ve found special in your travels?
- Draw one of these places from a “birds-eye” view.
- Discuss why it is important to travel or learn about new places and cultures.
- Have a few examples from your childhood or recent family experiences when you’ve (singular or plural as a family) had to overcome challenges. When has your family had to overcome fear (a big move, a new job, a huge storm)? How did you plan for it, either before or after? What lessons were learned? Give examples for other challenges – since life is filled with big ones and lots of smaller ones too. Examples might be a party canceled, major traffic delays, a missed flight or flat tire. How did you cope with these setbacks? What would be done differently?
- Invite your children to a discussion by asking them when have they wanted to quit? This will open doors to many follow up conversations and be sure to let them know that grownups too sometimes want to give up. Here are my top 10 examples but see what your kids come up with and then as a family how you can support one another to make it the whole journey.
- losing a boardgame or sports game
- getting lost driving and wanting to turn around for home
- homework (includes book reports and finishing assigned book)
- fundraising (or saving for a big item when little splurges are tempting)
- an art project not turning out like your vision
- running a race
- burnt cookies (or pot roast or cake or casserole or coffee or…)
- eating healthy