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How the Birds Became Friends

Long ago when the world was very young, the birds did not get along. 
They were always fighting about who was better.

Beaks pecking! Feathers flying! 
Squawks and screeches everywhere!

Little Quail feels lost in all the noise, but with each bird trying to outdo the others, Quail bravely takes an unexpected approach. In this delightful take on a Burmese folktale from award-winning storyteller Noa Baum and illustrated by renowned ecologist and artist Zev Labinger, watch the power of kindness change the world.

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Review quotes
"Noa’s clear, colorful retelling of this simple story reminds us of the simple truth that kindness and acceptance are the basis of friendship and peace. Quail’s surprising act changes everything for all the birds—and reminds us we’re capable of doing the same."
Bill Harley, author and Grammy Award–winning storyteller and musician

"Artist and ecologist Labinger knows birds, and it shows. Though rendering them realistically and true to life, he has also managed to imbue each with expressive faces that clearly reveal their feelings."
-Kirkus Reviews

"With a timely fable about peace and reconciliation among the birds, Noa Baum warms our hearts. Children will clamor to hear this story over and over, and it will be easy to hold their interest with Zev Labinger’s lively and colorful illustrations. While he never strays far from true natural history, Labinger skillfully endows familiar backyard birds with a full array of personalities and individual character. Together, Baum and Labinger have created a book that will entertain and satisfy parent and child alike."
—James Coe, author and illustrator of The Eastern Birds Golden Guide and member of the Board of Directors of the Society of Animal Artists

"Promoting kindness and humanity without preaching, How the Birds Became Friends is a gentle fable about how small choices make big differences. This benevolent, cheerily illustrated tale uses simple, effective narrative to distill the noise of conflict into the harmony of fellowship. Labinger’s watercolor illustrations brightly depict full-of-personality avian characters without losing their bird-ness. Baum’s retelling of this Burmese folktale lends itself to reading and telling aloud, and this story is sure to find a home in the hearts of young listeners."
—Janice M. Del Negro, PhD, professor of Youth Literature, SOIS Dominican University

"We could all learn a thing or two from the birds! Noa Baum has updated this classic folktale with a modern perspective to teach a timely lesson: peace can be found when we have the courage to go against the flow and do what is right."
—Annette Hoppenworth, director of the Kalamazoo Valley Museum Storytelling Festival

"On the surface, this book is a charming start for stimulating young people's interest in birds. Of course, the underlying message is even more important, especially in these times."
—Robert Bateman, world-renowned wildlife artist and founder of the Bateman Foundation for Environmental Education

"It’s my strong belief that nature conservation has to go hand in hand with environmental education, starting with children as soon as they can talk! The skillful and colorful illustrations of Zev Labinger and the inspiring story of Noa Baum told in an original way give a message of friendship, peace, the beauty of nature, and the variety of birdlife. Messages like these are so much needed all around the globe."
—Ysbrand Brouwers Sr., founder and director of Artists for Nature Foundation

"Join Quail and Crow for an adventure of allyship, a calling for camaraderie, as the two birds risk vulnerability but gain something far more valuable. Noa Baum’s fable of friendship could not be timelier, as we all must do better at seeing the human universals in our values and lives. Zev Labinger’s colorful illustrations dance the perfect line between folk art and scientific illustration, as his owls and magpies are equal parts charming and relatable."
—Allen M. Fish, director of the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory

"Birds have the marvelous ability to bring people together and raise the awareness for protecting our shared environment. This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of courage and peace through the amazing world of birds and 'dove-tails' perfectly with my lifelong work under the motto “Birds Know No Boundaries.”
—Yossi Leshem, professor at Tel Aviv University and founder of the Israeli Ornithological Center of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel

"The power of artworks to enhance a story is something to celebrate. Through splashes of color and meaningful gestures, Zev Labinger’s vibrant illustrations add depth and meaning to Noa Baum’s retelling of the Burmese folktale in How the Birds Became Friends."
—Kathy Kelsey Foley, director of Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum
Product Details
Age range
4 - 8
Grade range
P - 3
Number of pages
Publication date
September 14, 2021
ISBN Kindle