We Are Starlings by Robert Furrow and Donna Jo Napoli

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The nonfiction picture book We Are Starlings by Robert Furrow and Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Marc Martin (Random House, May 2023), invites readers into the mesmerizing world of a starling murmuration. Watercolor, pencil, and digital collage illustrations give a delicate balance between misty-edged watercolor plants and animals and the defined edges of closer birds. The thousands of tiny watercolor starlings create a sense of movement as the birds merge together, forming beautiful shapes in the sky.

A first person narration from one of the starlings explores the group of birds’ day from early morning until evening. The story explores the true marvel of starlings flying together and protecting one another. My daughter and I are enchanted by the intricate dance of millions of starlings, looping and swirling through the air as if choreographed. The illustrations beautifully capture this dance, depicting millions of tiny dots moving in perfect harmony. From the beginning of the day to its end, the starlings’ collective performance is both awe-inspiring and captivating.

We found a video on YouTube so we could see these birds in a real murmuration.

Having watched that video, I think the book is even more well done! The depictions of the birds “dancing” seems so scientifically accurate in its portrayal of the fascinating birds. As a helpful educational touch, We Are Starlings has two pages of end matter with more information about starlings, further piquing readers’ curiosity about these fascinating birds. We Are Starlings is not only an enchanting read but also an enjoyable exploration of the wonders of nature. We found it in the nonfiction section, because even with the engaging and simple narration, the factual illustrations and text truly teach.

Reviewed on June 21, 2023

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

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