Calvin Can’t Fly

Title: Calvin Can’t Fly

Author: Jennifer Berne
Illustrator: Keith Bendis

Publisher: Sterling Publishing, 2010

Suitable for: Ages 4-8

Themes: Family, Friendship, Importance of Learning, Individuality

Opening Sentences:

Calvin was a starling. He was born under the eaves of an old barn with this three brothers, four sisters, and sixty-seven thousand four hundred and thirty-two cousins. Starlings have BIG families.

Right from the beginning Calvin was different …


Calvin is an unusual starling. While his siblings and cousins learn to fly, Calvin learns to read and let his imagination soar. Since Calvin was always reading, he never learned to fly; thankfully his siblings help him out during migration season. It is Calvin who saves the flock when they fly into stormy weather.


Here is a link to some activities, that focus around the formations that birds fly in. Another activity (I brainstormed), handout a coloring sheet of a book with a blank cover. Have kids come up with a story title and cover image of what they think Calvin would like to read next.

Why I Like this Book:

A perfect book for story time, and a must have for any book lover young or old.  I adore this book on so many levels. How do I love thee, let me count the ways:

I love that Calvin is a bookworm.
I love that being called a “bookworm” is a bad thing for birds, because it has the word worm in it.
I love Calvin’s silly siblings who help him out when it is time to fly away.
I love that Calvin saves the day with his book knowledge.
I love the book for its comical illustrations.
I love Ms. Bearne’s mastery of the written word. Pitch-perfect, tight, and full of humor.
I love Calvin’s character and voice in the story; he really does sound like a bibliophile.

I just love everything about this book. So run to your library or bookstore and get this book. It is a true gem.

This review is part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.


28 Responses to “Calvin Can’t Fly”

  1. I just requested this book from the library last week. I can’t wait until it arrives!

    Thanks for the review – I’ll refer back to this after I’ve read the book.

  2. Oh my, your love of this book is infectious. I want to read it!

  3. This sounds like a great book that also teaches differences. And, my guess is that although he was a bookworm is knowledge saved the flock from danger. Everyone has a role in the family. Sounds like a book kids will love, as well as adults.

  4. Any book where the hero is a reader is okay in my book! 🙂

  5. Another book I would have posted myself! I love this story. I met Jennifer and Keith (wonderful people, both!) at a book signing one time – Keith entertained everyone by drawing things on the spot – so awesome! This is such a fun story, and what could be better than a book that shows how important reading is. Thanks for sharing this great title, along with your inventive idea for an activity – that’s the spirit! 🙂

  6. This is such a wonderful book! I don’t own it yet and reading this makes me want to run to the library to check it out again 🙂

  7. I have got to read this. I needed to research more pb’s on birds that can’t fly. Thanks for sharing this. Great review 🙂

  8. I’ve loved this book, too, since I first read it. One of my favorites!

  9. I love when I find a great picture book especially the ones with a glorious review. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Can’t wait to read it myself!

  10. I’m stopping by your site during the Comment Challenge and I’ll be back again. I like the book review focus of the site and the way you structure your reviews—what a terrific resource.

  11. Darshana, this book sounds great. You should have heard me giggling at the number of cousins he has! I can identify with a starling who’s a bookworm. Thanks so much for sharing this one.

  12. What a cool book! I hope Calvin doesn’t eat the book worm!

  13. I love, love, love this book! I got it as a baby shower gift and just adore everything about it, just as you mentioned. Another one that’s great is “Dog Loves Books” by Louise Yates.

  14. Hi Darshana, I discovered your site through the Comment Challenge (which we have only belatedly joined boohoo to us). And such a treasure it is! so many books that you’ve featured! 🙂 This one strikes me in particular because like all the comments shared above, I also love protagonists who are bibliophiles/book lovers! And thank you for including possible activities that can be done with the book. 🙂 Will definitely check this book out.

  15. This book sounds delightful. I love this quote: “I love that being called a “bookworm” is a bad thing for birds, because it has the word worm in it.” Thanks for a great review Darshana, can’t wait to find this little gem!

  16. This might be a good stories for adults, who want to spend time reading (and ignore other things). I like the book cover activity too. I’m adding this one to my library list.

  17. Okay boss! I’m off out to the library today…. must get this one to have a read through. Sounds quirky and fun. Thankyou Darshana.

  18. “sixty-seven thousand four hundred and thirty-two cousins” – very funny! Great review, this book sounds like a must read, I’m adding it to my list!

  19. Fun – especially your list of what you loved about this book! Thanks for sharing, and thanks as well for being part of the 2012 Comment Challenge!
    Keep on commenting,

  20. I loved this book when I saw it last year – really stuck with me. I think all of us “bookworms” could relate!

  21. Your list of reasons you loved the book… just delightful. I’ll be on the lookout for this title.

  22. This sounds like a terrific book for my son who loves birds and books! Thanks for sharing at The Children’s Bookshelf.


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