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Ten Birds

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  288 ratings  ·  67 reviews
A clever counting book and fable unlike any other and winner of the 2011 Governor General's Award for Illustration. Ten birds are trying to figure out how to get to the other side of the river. The bird they call "Brilliant" devises a pair of stilts. The bird they call "Highly Satisfactory" engineers a raft. One by one, nine resourceful birds make the crossing until a ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Kids Can Press
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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 ·  288 ratings  ·  67 reviews

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Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful illustrations and very clever.
I liked the illustrations and the birds were cute. But the whole time I'm thinking, "Birds can fly! Birds can fly! Birds can fly!" They don't need all of these contraptions to get them to the other side. Also? There's a BRIDGE! Birds can walk! Birds can hop! Birds...oh, forget it.
Jun 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: storytime-kidlit
I bought this for my school library because it had won the Governor General Literary Prize for the illustrations--and deservedly so. The detail in each pen and ink drawing can leave you examining each page for hours. The black & white colour scheme is always an eye-catcher amongst the brighter-hued picture books.

However, the story itself seems more likely to appeal to adults than children and the plot--even after exploring this book with several different ages of primary students--leaves
Erika Bowen
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-summaries
1. Book Summary in your own words
A counting book where ten birds are trying to cross a river. Each more genius than the last.
2. Grade level, interest level, lexile
3. Appropriate classroom use (subject area)
Counting (math), common sense, inadequacies of labels, ingenuity
4. Individual students who might benefit from reading
Students who are learning to count. Students who are labeled and want to prove others wrong.
5. Small group use (literature circles)
In groups, students will think of as
Dec 27, 2016 rated it liked it
The illustrations are *too* fancy, pretty, and weighted for the simple fable. And the moral of the fable doesn't make sense: I say, if the birds want to over-engineer, let them. After all, Rube Goldberg won lasting fame for over-engineering.

As far as the motif of the label-names for each bird, well, is it meant to be a warning against the excesses of the self-esteem movement, during which we learned that we must praise the accomplishment, and not the child?

And, seriously, why didn't they fly?
Apr 05, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers Looking for Beautiful Counting Books for the Picture-Book Set
This debut picture-book from Toronto-based artist Cybèle Young was completely unfamiliar to me, as indeed, was Young herself, when I caught a glimpse of it on the "newly arrived" shelf in the children's department of my public library this past weekend. Drawn in by the cover - I have a weakness for detailed pen-and-ink illustrations - I picked it up on impulse. It's a rather original counting book, as it happens, following ten birds, from "Brilliant" to "Needs Improvement," as they find ...more
Liv Mothershead
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Exquisite pen and ink drawings detail the exploits of ten birds trying to cross a river. Each bird devises a new way to cross the river, trying to out-do the last. This is a counting book with a twist. The moral is to not overthink solutions, because sometimes there is already a bridge where you need it.
Sarah Bosworth
This is a cute and somewhat comical story that shows us how even the ones who aren't necessarily outstanding can get the job done, and sometimes they did it in the most sensible way.
Spencer Miller
Jan 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Beautifully illustrated. I liked the message about how labels fail to grasp the entirety of character. I am still considering why none of the birds simply flew across.
Emmaline MacBeath
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Ten birds come to a river and must figure out a way to cross. Each amazing bird comes up with an ingenious idea leaving one less bird behind. Until finally, the last bird, labeled "needs improvement" simply walks across the bridge.

This book has abstract concepts. It is advertized for grades 1 and up which is appropriate. However it is a counting book and 1st graders know their numbers so then the book becomes about ingenuity and finally the message that good enough is often the best solution.

May 10, 2012 rated it did not like it
Ten birds are brainstorming how to get to the other side of a river. One by one they come up with innovative ideas such as building stilts, creating a balloon lift, and catapulting across. The very last bird, the one they call needs improvement, comes up with the most obvious answer.

I liked the illustrations but found them a bit too gothic for children to enjoy. It has a cryptic feeling that doesnt really fit with a book about counting. I wish that Young used another animal for this story
Oct 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
wide reading for CI 546

grade level: any really but certainly younger kids will enjoy the counting aspect

genre: picture book w/ a very steampunk feel to the illustrations

themes: counting. ingenuity. simplicity.

school use: Could use in a counting unit, as a read-aloud to introduce kids to thinking about the story BEHIND the story (the message between the lines).

review: I've been on the lookout for good ABC/counting books since a friend (who's a mother) mentioned how often those books contain
Oct 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The illustrations in this picture book are beautiful and very interesting. It is entirely in black and white and so would be good for detail-oriented children who don't need bright colors to hold their attention. The story is about how ten birds cross a bridge (without flying, which is the obvious answer). Each bird is labeled in terms of their intelligence ("Brilliant" to "Needs Improvement"). It's a subtle book that shows that sometimes people (or birds) make things much harder than they need ...more
Alicia Evans
Young gives a new take on counting books with this story. Ten birds come to a bridge surrounded by what looks like a junkyard and they cannot seem to know how to cross it. One by one they find something in the yard and use it to find their way across. The illustrations are beautiful, done with pen and ink to give a classic feel. Though this book doesn't have a lot of bright color, the detailed pictures make up for it. While the story is cute, there is a lot of advanced vocabulary in this book ...more
Sherry Ellis
May 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ten birds try to get across a river. It turns out that these bird brains are rather resourceful. One by one, using catapults, stilts, balloons, pulleys, and other assorted mechanical items, they get across. the last bird, called, "Needs Improvement," takes the simplest way, which will make readers chuckle.

Ten Birds is a cute counting book which will help kids learn to count backwards from ten. The detailed black and white pen and ink illustrations are whimsical and inventive, and while not
Oct 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my new favorites. The pictures are gorgeous and very amusing, and the story line is quite clever. Children who can appreciate a little irony will be wondering why: a)none of the birds simply flew, b) one bird even created new wings rather than using its own, and c) the bridge was not even considered by 9 birds, some of whom used portions of it to power or propel their contraptions. And I absolutely and completely love both the name "Needs Improvement" and the look of pride on this ...more
Jun 07, 2012 rated it liked it
The illustrations were strikingly different - unlike anything I've seen before in a children's book. I loved the sepia tone and the way each device to get the other side left a numbered illustration totaling the number of birds left behind. The story was fairly simplistic, but the pictures made it much better. The ending was a little random, but it still had nice elements. I liked the etching feel of the pictures too. It was a good book and I'd probably recommend.

*Taken from My Sentiments
Little Miss and the Legomeister
Jun 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Ten birds engineering riverside junk into creative ways to cross the river.

Um. What's wrong with this picture?

As the flap says, it's a "witty fable about ingenuity and common sense."

The drawings are unique, black and white, and very simple in that it's focused on the birds, and the river, and the items they're using, but what is included in each picture is drawn with intricate detail.

Little Miss really liked it. She says, "It's so funny cause they're so stupid." She especially liked the bird
Sep 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s, 2011, picture
I picked this one up because the black and white illustrations are amazing. The pictures invite close inspection and are quite wonderful. The birds figure out how to cross a river in creative and inventive ways, despite the fact that birds can fly, and leave behind a countdown from 10 to 0. While the pictures are great, the format and story arent quite strong enough to bring me to purchase it for an elementary school collection. ...more
Lisa Vegan
Jun 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone looking for an inventive counting (1-10) book; fans of beautiful drawings
Recommended to Lisa by: Abigail A.
Oh, this is hilarious. Theres a bridge right there and birds can fly, yet 9 of the 10 birds find ingenious (but unnecessary) ways to get to the other side. The 10th gets it more right. But, theres another answer. And kids will have fun knowing something the birds dont appear to know.

This works as a 1-10 counting book. It also works as a wonderful book for learning some new vocabulary words!

The drawings are just exquisite; they really make the book.
Mollie Smith
Apr 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book...I thought the illustrations were funny and partnered well with the text to tell the story. And it's much more than a counting book..I saw a lot of parallels between the birds and elementary kids in the public school system. But it's got a great message about labeling people, as tests and scores tend to do (excellent, needs improvement, etc.), and the inaccuracies that are a part of that labeling.
Jennifer Heise
This black and white picturebook is engaging, not least because the less extravagant the name of the bird, the more practical the bird's crossing method, thus leading younger readers to smile about how maybe, just maybe, the first may be last. Young's illustrations will appeal to those who enjoyed The Garden of Abdul Gasazi and The Mysteries of Harris Burdick
Miss Pippi the Librarian
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A silly and imaginative book about ten birds crossing a river. This could easily be used as counting book, but for readers interested in engineering or inventions, this would be a excellent book to share.

Theme: bridges
Additional themes: building, counting, birds, black & white,

Reviewed from a library copy.
Kathleen Dixon
Aug 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
What a visually attractive book! And funny too. I really enjoyed using this book with Zenobia, for her learning of numbers. And James (who already knows his numbers and can count to 100 and add and subtract and has quite a few of the basic math concepts down pat) was fascinated with the different methods and machinery that the various birds used to cross the river. Great stuff.
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Amazing pen and ink illustrations. Kooky pretense to the story - each page details how one of the ten birds gets across the river using weird, steampunk contraptions - never addressing the fact that there is a bridge right there and that birds can fly, until the very end. At first I was annoyed, but by the end I was won over.
Kate Robinson
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A quirky childrens book with beautiful images. Cybele Young makes us question the value of labelling children or ourselves and think carefully about the merits of creativity versus problem solving (without recommending either over the other.) A great read for adults and older children but still suitable for children ages 3-5. With an ending that will make you smile.
Mar 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
10 birds are trying to get across a river. There are a variety of gears and gadgets that they may employ to do so. Much of the story is told in the amazing black and white illustrations. Not a counting book for young children, but one that older children will enjoy -- the birds devise stilts, a catapult, and a variety of contraptions.

Annie Payne
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The artwork in this book is wonderful! I read this book to kids ranging in age from 3-8 years, and they all enjoyed it. They loved taking guesses as to what would happen next as we read, and I loved that it included a counting theme and some really advanced vocabulary that we also got to talk about as we read! Great book all the way around!
A counting book that left too many unanswered questions to appeal to the masses. 10 black birds use various materials and machines to get themselves over a river. Each one gets across until the 10th bird decides to use the bridge. An odd duck that will appeal to the technical-minded and those with a soft spot for non-sequiters. Yeah, not for the masses. But memorable. -T
Katie Curry
Oct 31, 2011 rated it liked it
This book is a fable about ten birds trying to cross a river.
I would use this book to prompt students to think deeply about a text: underlying meanings. I would also use this book in a counting lesson.
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Cybèle Young is an award-winning paper sculpture artist as well as an author and illustrator of children's books.

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