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FEED THE BIRDS is a hand-on, interactive story of a child's visit to an urban park with a caregiver.

Photo of Sara Levine

Written by


(200 words)

[Illustration note: setting is a park in Philadelphia. Birds are typical urban birds local to this city: mostly pigeons (rock doves) and house sparrows with occasional starlings, mourning doves, cardinals, blue jays and chickadees. For the grey squirrels, include some with the black color variation, as they are common here. Please show racial diversity in people illustrated.]

Page 3

Where are all the birds?

[Illustration note: no birds visible]

Page 4-5

Do you see any birds?

Point to the ones you see.

[Illustration note: show pigeons and house sparrows partially hidden and at a distance but visible to the child reader in common city park locations such as on buildings, in shrubs, near trash barrels, etc. Hold off on showing the more colorful and timid species of birds until later]

Page 6-7

Should we try calling them over?

Let’s make some bird sounds.

Page 8-9

They aren’t coming.

Maybe they’re hungry.

Should we try feeding them?

Grab a handful of seeds and toss them into the air.

[Illustration note: show close up of appropriate seed mix for the birds in a paper bag, bucket or some appropriate container—sunflower seeds, cracked corn, thistle, millet etc]

Page 10-11

Here they come!

[Illustration note: close up of seeds falling across the page that the kid threw on previous spread but no birds visible yet, or maybe just the tip of wings on the edges of the pages]

Page 12-13

So many!

Can you count how many there are?

Page 14-15

So many different colors!  What colors do you see?

Can you find a blue one?

A red one?

A brown one?

One that has black on it?

One that has white on it?

[Illustration note: please have more than one bird answer for the last three questions]

Page 17-18

Oh, that little one in the back isn’t getting any seeds. Want to give it some extra? It looks so hungry!

[Illustration note: show the close up of the seeds in the container so kid can pretend to put them next to this bird]

Page 19-20

I think it’s thanking you!

[Illustration note: close-up view of bird from the above spread with a tiny pile of seeds in front of it]

Page 21-22

The pigeons have such beautiful colors on them. Which pigeon is your favorite?

[Illustration note: please show the wide color variation that pigeons typically have including the purple and green shimmery iridescence on their necks]

Page 23-24

Oh, someone else is coming to eat! A squirrel! Can you find it?

[Illustration note: just show one squirrel eating in this spread, but more in the background]

Page 25-26

I’m getting tired of sitting still. Let’s pretend we’re birds and fly around.

What kind of bird are you?

Page 27-28

Ooops! I think we scared the animals away! Oh well, they had a good feast!

Page 29-30

Back Matter

Here are the names of the animals we saw:

[Illustration note: please show a close-up of each of the following animals, labeled: rock dove/pigeon, starling, house sparrow (female), house sparrow (male),  mourning dove, blue jay, cardinal (female), cardinal (male), black-capped chickadee, grey squirrel, dog]

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

This book aims to tell a gently humorous, interactive story of a child (the reader) feeding birds, playing and making observations with a caregiver at an urban park. My intention is to both teach the science (which is my specialty) and guide the adult reader on effective ways to engage the child in learning from books as well as from nature in an outdoor setting.

Share your suggested book title


PLEASE USE THE VERSION OF THIS QUESTION AT THE TOP OF THE SUBMISSION FORM: Share a draft of your manuscript (250 word limit, not including title).

I'm not sure I understand this question. I pasted my manuscript into the above space. I can also send it as a more formal attachment if you'd like.

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

I read the research paper provided to make sure the language I used is appropriate and aligns with the recommendations. I think that it does.. I just used language that I use in teaching young children about animals and nature, which I have been doing for the past 20+ years.

Please describe any familiarity you may have with Philadelphia and its residents? (optional question)

I attended college in the Philadelphia area, so I'm familiar with the city--with the people and the urban wildlife. I did volunteer work with youth in the city while there (in the 80's).

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

I set the book in an park in Philadelphia. This wildlife is accurate for what would be seen at a park in Philadelphia. I've made a note that the artist should show racial diversity in the people shown in the park.

Location: Country


Location: State or Department


Location: City


Website URL (optional question)

Tell us more about you / your team

I'm an author of science books for children and an educator. Making science fun and accessible to all is a goal of mine.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

I think I'd leave this to the illustrator. It is important that the animals to be shown realistically enough that they could be identified by species. And I'd like any families show in the park to reflect the population on Philadelphia (with an emphasis on racial diversity and diversity in family structure--ie GLBT+ positive). I imagine it illustrated in water color or collage, but I don't think that's up to me to decide.

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • Yes

If yes, please list titles and publications.

Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers Fossil by Fossil: Comparing Dinosaur Bones Flower Talk: How Plants Use Color to Communicate Bedtime for a Scientist (in press) Eye by Eye: Comparing Animal Peepers (in press) Strainers, Pliers and Jackhammers: Tools Birds Use (in press)

Do you have an agent?

  • Yes

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am/we are creatives, writers, or artists


Join the conversation:

Photo of Itika Gupta

Hi Sara Levine  Welcome to the Challenge Community!
Lovely story about feeding girls, and really appreciate the effort you put in to describe the illustrations in such details. That really brought the story to life.
But since the manuscript is how you'll be evaluated for the challenge, how might you evolve your manuscript to introduce new nudges of engagement and interaction for caregivers, to help them with their child’s learning development as they narrate the story ? You can find some inspiration in the Featured Suggestion and Challenge Resources on the main challenge page.

Photo of Sara Levine

Hi Itika,
Thanks for the welcome and for your kind words on my manuscript.
I've been thinking over your suggestions for new nudges of engagement. My thought is that the clue for how to interact is on each page (ie make the sound of a bird, pretend to gather up and throw seeds, ask the child to find specified things, fly around the room). In my mind, it's there, like in the book PRESS HERE. I think inserting more clues might make it seem overbearing and possibly insulting to the adult reader, so I'm hesitant to do so. But perhaps if you had specific suggestions for what you were looking for, I'd have a better idea what you envision. I'd welcome your ideas, if you want to share more.

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