Wednesday, October 8, 2014

WILD & WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY: Feathers Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart and Aviary Wonders Inc by Kate Samworth



Young naturalists meet sixteen birds in this elegant introduction to the many uses of feathers. A concise main text highlights how feathers are not just for flying. More curious readers are invited to explore informative sidebars, which underscore specific ways each bird uses its feathers for a variety of practical purposes. A scrapbook design showcases life-size feather illustrations.


I love it when I discover picture book nonfiction that teaches me something new.  While picture book nonfiction is, of course, designed to teach children, I'm always extra impressed when I learn something new as well.  To me that means the author and illustrator have done their homework and made the book as good as possible.  The author has done a fabulous job sharing information about feathers that I'd never heard before.  For example, I had no idea that some birds use some of their feathers to dig out a burrow or that the Club-winged manakin uses some of its feathers to whistle.  The comparison of feathers to other objects also makes the book a great teaching tool as well.  The illustrations are beautiful and I love the design which makes the book look like a scrapbook.  The large text is perfect for reading out loud with younger children while the smaller text adds details for older readers.  All in all a fabulous addition to picture book nonfiction in all libraries.


Since 2031, Aviary Wonders Inc. has offered bird lovers a unique opportunity: Assemble your own bird from stunningly beautiful and carefully hand-crafted parts. The birds can even be taught to fly and to sing! This slyly satirical crafter's delight is offered as the perfect antidote to extinction of birds in the wild.

Brilliantly illustrated with oil paintings and filled with laugh-aloud asides as well as sobering facts about extinct species, this mock catalog is a clever send-up of contemporary sales spin and a thought-provoking look into an all-too-possible future.


What a clever book!  There are a lot of different ways to talk about animals going extinct but I've never seen anything like this book.  The book seems to be a catalog that allows the reader to design his/her own bird by choosing the appropriate parts (torso, legs, beak, wings, and tail) from those available.  The book also sneaks in information about different birds that have gone extinct over the last few centuries because of human choices.  It's also clear that the author/illustrator had a lot of fun with the coloring of the different parts.  The colors are beautiful but clearly not real.  Some of the combinations are quite entertaining, especially when wattles and crests are added to birds that don't really have them.  The instructions on how to put the bird together after receiving the parts is also quite impressive and entertaining.  What the book reminds me of is how amazing nature really is and if aren't careful more birds will disappear and that would truly be a great shame.

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