Nerdy Birdy Tweets

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
Nerdy Birdy Tweets Book Poster Image
Screen-addicted bird ignores real-life pal in funny story.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Lessons about screen privacy and posting pictures of others. Vultures eat dead animals. Bird families/species flamingo, ostrich, puffin. Puffins live in Iceland. Examples of screen acronyms and usernames.

Positive Messages

Friends can like different things. Real friends are better than screen friends. When you make a mistake, you can admit it and correct it. Always check with friends before you post pictures of them on the internet.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Vulture expresses her feelings to Nerdy Birdy when she's upset. Nerdy Birdy admits when he's wrong, apologizes, and tries to correct his behavior. They both try to accept and accommodate differences in their friendship.

Violence & Scariness

Vulture eats dead animals, including a squirrel and a raccoon, which aren't shown fully in art, only tail end. When she's annoyed at Nerdy Birdy, she says, "Did you realize I can fit your whole body in my beak? I could eat you in one bite if I wanted."

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Nerdy Birdy Tweets by Aaron Reynolds (Creepy Pair of Underwear) and illustrated by Matt Davies is a sequel to their picture book Nerdy Birdy. When Nerdy Birdy becomes obsessed with collecting screen friends on "Tweetster," he ignores his real friend Vulture, who loves "snacking on dead things." The conflict comes to a head when Nerdy Birdy posts an embarrassing picture of Vulture without asking her. The many lessons -- about screen obsession, internet privacy, friendship, accepting and accommodating differences, and admitting one's mistakes -- are pointed, but delivered with humor.

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What's the story?

In NERDY BIRDY TWEETS, Nerdy Birdy is obsessed with a new video game called "Tweetster." He collects friends online, plays games with them, and tweets messages and pictures. His friend Vulture would rather "eat dead things" than play Tweetster, and gets bored when Nerdy Birdy stays glued to the screen and brags about his new "friends." Still, Vulture joins Tweetster, and sometimes Nerdy Birdy puts down his screen so they can play their old games. But Vulture gets angry when she sees that Nerdy Birdy has posted an embarrassing picture of her, complete with snarky caption "@VULTUREGIRL IS A MESSY EATER. SHE EATS DEAD THINGS. EWWWWWWW!!" Nerdy Birdy realizes he's been a "bird brain" and apologizes, assuring Vulture that "One real live you is worth a thousand Tweetster friends."

Is it any good?

This fun animal friendship story, featuring a nerdy bird wearing glasses and a scraggly vulture, takes a contemporary spin with a plot that centers on computer games and social media manners. Nerdy Birdy Tweets explores some issues that are timeless; for instance, friends who are different, and apologizing when you're wrong. But it also ventures into screen etiquette, with friends who neglect real friends while stockpiling virtual ones, and friends who overshare. The lessons are pointed, but author Aaron Reynolds loads the book with so much humor that they don't seem preachy. Nerdy Birdy's giddy excitement is silly: "I'm friends with a puffin!! She lives in Iceland. Iceland!!" We giggle when Vulture flies away and Nerdy Birdy, glued to the screen, doesn't notice for an hour. And the birds play "Angry Worms." It's also refreshing that Vulture, who eats "dead animals," is a girl.

The art, by Matt Davis, who won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartoons, is as playful as the text. He gives both friends dry, deadpan expressions. Nerdy Birdy is so focused on his screen that he barely notices when Vulture encloses him in her beak. And a page that shows Nerdy Birdy's prolonged inattention travels from day to night. Is the picture book crowd active on social media, posting pictures and amassing online friends? Maybe not, but they can tuck these lessons away to apply in the near future.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the friendship in Nerdy Birdy Tweets. Do you have a good friend who likes to do different things than you do? How do you make sure both of you get to play what you like?

  • Why does Nerdy Birdy like to play on his screen so much? Do you do anything on the computer where you collect "friends"? What’s the difference between a screen "friend" and an actual friend?

  • Are your friends or family members always looking at screens? Do you ever have trouble getting their attention? How does that make you feel?

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