Kirkus Reviews – Starred Review

The irresistible story of a proud bookworm will put smiles on the faces of readers of all ages. Calvin is a young starling with a huge family. While his brothers, sisters and 67,432 cousins are off discovering nature and learning to fly, Calvin is content to keep his beak in a good book—books will take him places his wings never could, after all. When the season changes and it is time to migrate, Calvin realizes he was too busy learn how to fly! His loving family find a way to bring him along, but they run into treacherous weather along their journey. Luckily, Calvin has read just what to do and saves his entire flock. The illustrations are wildly original and full of funny details (check out the highly technical flight classes and the cows' lipstick). With their stick legs, flat heads and fluffy hair(s), the starlings are endearingly comical. Between its heartwarming (but never treacly) story and quirky illustrations, this tale should be a staple among book-loving families as well as in libraries and elementary classrooms for years to come. (Picture book. 4-8)


Publishers Weekly

In a lively children's book debut, Bendis contributes gouache cartoons that bring action and droll wit to Berne's (Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau) story about valuable experiences to be found both inside and outside books. Young starling Calvin--humorously depicted as a squarish, wide-eyed bird with long, spindly legs--is a loner. While his seven siblings and more than 67,000 cousins ("Starlings have big families") learn how to fly, Calvin spends his days reading. Hurt by taunts of "nerdy birdie" and "geeky beaky," the book lover waddles to the library, "the only place where he was happy." When it's time to head south for the winter and Calvin still doesn't know how to fly, the other starlings gamely tie strings to him to tow him along. An approaching hurricane gives Calvin a chance to show off his book smarts ("We need to get out of the path of a violent, tropical weather system, which... will not diminish until it encounters large stretches of landmass!"). Regular doses of humor in the text and art happily keep the story from migrating into sentimentality. 


Reviewed By Mom—

I recently had the please of reading a brand new children's book to A&W....Calvin Can't Fly: The Story of a Bookworm Birdie by Jennifer Berne. Right away I loved the title. Being a bookworm myself and wanting to raise bookworms, I was all for reading about this kindred spirit!

Calvin is a starling who lives "in an old barn with his three brothers, four sisters and sixty-seven thousand four hundred and thirty -two cousins." Calvin is no ordinary bird though. While his rather large family is discovering things like worms and grass Calvin has discovered a book and is forever smitten. Forgoing the "usual" bird doings such as catching insects and learning to fly, Calvin spends his days at the library devouring every book he can. Of course being different makes him the target of teasing from his family who call him "bookworm" and "geeky beaky".

When it comes time to fly south Calvin can't fly...he has been too busy reading books. His family carries him along but right into a hurricane....thankfully Calvin's love of reading has taught him all about these storms so he is able to save the day!

This book is charming and fun and I LOVE the message here....being different is not a bad thing and can, in fact, provide very useful! This book also contains one of the sweetest lines I have ever read to my children..."His books took him to places his wings never could. And his heart fluttered with excitement". Isn't that just the best?? Isn't the author echoing what we all want for our future bookworms....a good book to take them to places of wonder, imagination and fantasy?? I really, really love that line! The illustrations, by Keith Bendis, are superb and give real life to Calvin and his flock of family members.

Calvin Can't Fly is an excellent choice for the little bookworms in your life. The positive message and the exciting story line will have your child asking for it again and again. You can't miss with this one. The recommended age for this one is 4-8 and I think that is right on the mark.