"Nerdy Bird Tweets"

With the holidays in full swing, families gather from far and near to share a meal and visit. Too often young people, and adults too, bring along an unwelcome and uninvited guest –electronic screens, video games and telephones. What’s a host to do?

How about leaving a copy of “Nerdy Birdy Tweets” by Aaron Reynolds, out for guests to read – it’s funny, but has a serious message about balancing screen and family/friend time.

Nerdy Birdy, clad in oversized glasses (maybe from excessive screens) is addicted to video games, but his big buddy Vulture more enjoys “snacking on dead things,” which Nerdy Bird “thinks…are gross.” Though the two birds are very different, “They are also the best of friends.”

That is until Nerdy Birdy’s addiction to “Tweetster,” a game that strains the birdies’ bond, overshadows the activities they share. Suddenly Nerdy is racking up online friends right and left and sending them messages and photos, while his real-life, on-the-spot buddy suffers from the slight. “You’re friends with a Vulture, and she’s dying of boredom,” Vulture quips.

Try as she might, Vulture can’t shake Nerdy Bird’s obsession so he flaps away leaving his pal bereft of a relationship that had been the wind beneath his wings.

This cautionary tale is delivered with a light-handed touch, and winning cartoon-like pictures by Matt Davies, which are clever and laugh-out-loud funny.