“The mountains are calling and I must go.” -John Muir
A review of The best nest, written and illustrated by P.D. Eastman. Beginner Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, c1968. ISBN 0394800516
What follows is a book review of the first book I ever read all by myself.
The Best Nest opens innocuously enough. Mr. Bird seems happy with his current situation, pronouncing to the world with his birdsong just how much he loves his house:
I love my house.
I love my nest.
In all the world
My nest is best!
It becomes clear, however, that Mrs. Bird is very unhappy with the nest. One imagines a shrill screeching at Mr. Bird over his lack of ambition to find a better nest. Very soon we see Mrs. Bird’s true colors as an emotionally, verbally abusive spouse. Poor Mr. Bird.
They begin the search for a new abode. Mrs. Bird allows Mr. Bird to take the lead. Of course, his searches come up short every time. (Someone already lives in the hole in a tree, the boot already belongs to a foot, etc.) In true victimized fashion, Mr. Bird blames himself. “‘I guess I made a mistake,’ said Mr. Bird,” forgetting entirely that it was Mrs. Bird who wanted a new place to begin with.
After chastising Mr. Bird (“You make too many mistakes.”), she finds the ideal place in a church bell tower. They set about to decorate it and soon their new nest is the best. Mr. Bird, that easily satisfied partner, is away singing about what a marvelous nest he has, when someone rings the church bell.
Things take a dark turn here. Mrs. Bird, frightened and I imagine traumatized, leaves the nest in a hurry. When Mr. Bird goes to inspect, she’s nowhere to be seen. No note, nothing. She’s gone.
He searches high and low for her. Finally, he comes across a fat cat with feathers surrounding him that look suspiciously like Mrs. Bird’s. That was it for Mr. Bird; he knew then that she had died.
Devastated, he sores aimlessly through a rainy night, believing his partner had died, and probably thinking it was all his fault.
He crashes suddenly into his old nest and decides to rest there until the weather clears. And who should be waiting in there but Mrs. Bird!
Does Mrs. Bird apologize? Does Mrs. Bird exclaim with joy at how happy she is to see Mr. Bird? No, of course not, because she is abusive and never admits when she is wrong. And guess what? Turns out the old nest was the best nest all along! Oh, fickle Mrs. Bird.
In a final twist, Mrs. Bird shares the news that the Birds will soon be parents. The cycle of abuse will continue. For all of our sakes, let’s hope the sequel to The Best Nest is called Baby Bird Finds a Good Therapist.