Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Friday, February 19, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Event-A Flurry of Feathers

When you spend a lot of time outdoors your entire life, you tend to become more observant and appreciative of everything living outside the human realm.  You learn to see the subtle and not so subtle changes which come in seconds or with the seasons.  One of the most important things is to be present in the moment with stillness.

If we can learn to look to the other inhabitants of our planet, flora and fauna, they have essential messages to share.  I find myself watching in wonder more and more the actions, habits and calls of birds.  Parenting is portrayed in a majestic eagle pair guarding a nest along a quiet river, adaptability and trust is seen in the robins building a nest in a hanging basket on your front porch, and teamwork is depicted in the swoop of a starling murmuration.  One of the most remarkable examples was when I was cutting a bouquet of zinnias one sunny summer day.  As I stood next to the garden thinking, a hummingbird zoomed up and flitted from blossom drinking the nectar.  I held my breath hardly believing this gift I was receiving.

Today I am happy to participate in the 2016 Nonfiction 10 for 10 Event hosted by Cathy Mere, Reflect & Refine: Building a Learning CommunityMandy Robeck, Enjoy and Embrace Learning,  and Julie Balen, Connecting to Learn.  You can view all the contributions at the Picture Book 10 for 10 Community Google+ site.  In 2014 I highlighted my top ten dinosaur books.  Last year I featured books on individuals whose contributions in human history made a difference.  This year it's a pleasure to showcase books I believe can change or increase your admiration for birds.

Mama Built A Little Nest (Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, March 18, 2014) written by Jennifer Ward with illustrations by Steve Jenkins

My full summary and recommendation for this title is linked here.

This is an outstanding introduction to this topic sure to encourage readers to take notice of the world around them.  The combination of rhythmic poetry, fascinating information and stunning illustrations makes this a must-have title in any collection.

Feathers Not Just For Flying (Charlesbridge, February 25, 2014) written by Melissa Stewart with illustrations by Sarah S. Brannen

My full summary and recommendation for this title is linked here.

This title presents to readers the amazing capabilities of feathers on a variety of birds.  The mix of narrative and visuals is as pleasing as watching a feather floating on a current of air; light, airy and down-to-earth.  In addition to the author's note two pages are devoted to classifying feathers; six categories are described.

 Birds Of A Feather (Chronicle Books, September 26, 2012) by Bernadette Gervais and Francesco Pittau

My full summary and recommendation for this title is linked here.

Within twelve, yes only twelve, pages a vast array of interesting, intriguing information is presented through a series of flaps, fold-outs, using stunning artwork.

Woodpecker Wham! (Henry Holt and Company, May 12, 2015) written by April Pulley Sayre with illustrations by Steve Jenkins

My full summary and recommendation for this title is linked here.

In a staccato style reminiscent of the birds' rhythmic beak beats, chanting words pair with fascinating art as we explore the world of woodpeckers.  Authenticity is apparent in the words and artwork throughout the seasons of the year.  A page at the end is dedicated to further reading, websites, and acknowledgments.

Parrots Over Puerto Rico (Lee & Low Books, Inc., September 15, 2013) by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore with collages by Susan L. Roth

My full summary and recommendation for this title is linked here.

This title tells the tale of these magnificent birds who nearly faded from existence.  The thorough and meticulous research of Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore is unmistakable from the first page.  Their technique of presenting information, a paragraph about the parrots followed by a paragraph about the island and its human inhabitants, creates a type of comparative tension.  In this way readers are able to clearly see how the later affected the former.  Choosing to provide this material in chronological order further enhances the emotional involvement of the reader.  Six pages at the book's end contain more factual and pictorial items of interest as well as a bibliographic list of sources.

The Sky Painter:  Louis Fuertes, Bird Artist (Two Lions, April 28, 2015) written by Margarita Engle with illustrations by Aliona Bereghici

My full summary and recommendation for this title is linked here.

I realize with this book may not qualify as nonfiction.  In checking the State of Michigan library it was classified between twelve libraries holding it in their collections as either poetry or biography.  There is an ongoing discussion about nonfiction, historical fiction and informational fiction at Kid Lit Frenzy hosted by educator Alyson Beecher.

I decided to include it here because of the impact this artist had on the world of birds.  Author Margarita Engle elected to present the information through a series of poems.  She is indeed a master.  At the end she includes a historical note and three images.

Look Up!: Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard (Candlewick Press, March 12, 2013) written and illustrated by Annette LeBlanc Cate

My full summary and recommendation for this title is linked here.

In this book, Annette LeBlanc Cate offers to younger or beginner bird-watchers hints on how to enjoy it best.  She reminds readers to take the time to notice what's right in front of our eyes. Two words pop into my mind when I think of this book, information and humor.  Factual presentation in the body of the book and in the extra captions is worded specifically for a novice to bird-watching.  It is countered with the spot-on statements liberally loaded with fun made by the gathered birds.

A Nest Is Noisy (Chronicle Books, April 14, 2015) written and illustrated by the collaborative team of Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long

My full summary and recommendation for this title is linked here.

Not all of the nests featured belong to birds but many of them are those of birds.  Each statement of a nest is presents readers with supporting information in detail.  Aston, through research, is able to provide those captivating details which enlarge our respect for those beings inhabiting our planet.

Thunder Birds: Nature's Flying Predators (Sterling, April 5, 2011) written and illustrated by Jim Arnosky

From the dust jacket text:  What's that flying overhead?
A bald eagle?
A vulture?
A pelican?
You'll know once you've seen the magnificent birds in this book with their tremendous wingspans, razor sharp claws, and powerful beaks.  Open the giant fold-out pages to see detailed illustrations of more than sixty-life size winged predators---from hawks to herons, from ospreys to owls.  Acclaimed naturalist Jim Arnosky will bring out your inner explorer as he explains why there are no feathers on a vulture's head, which bird is the deep diving champ, what makes an owl's wings perfectly silent in flight, and much more.  Bring wilderness right into your room---or use this book as a guide for our expedition!

This title is a must own for all libraries and classrooms.  An author's note, more about birds and a metric equivalents chart close out this volume.

Bird Talk: What Birds are Saying and Why (Roaring Brook Press, March 13, 2012) written and illustrated by Lita Judge

From the dust jacket text:  Chirp, warble, quack, coo, rattle, screech!
Birds have lots of ways of staying in touch:  they sing and talk, dance and drum, cuddle and fight.  But what does all of the bird talk mean?
Filled with gorgeous illustrations this fascinating book takes a look at the secret life of birds as they hunt, nest, and get to know each other.  Whether you already love to bird-watch or are just curious about the wildlife in your backyard, you'll never look at your feathered friends in quite the same way again!

At the conclusion of this book Lita Judge includes four pages of additional information about twenty-eight birds, a glossary, references, a website and an author's note.  You simply can't go wrong with a book written and illustrated by Judge.

I am trying very hard to stick with the ten title limit but I've always been fascinated with the hawks that nested in New York City.  Three titles to check out are Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City (Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, March 11, 2008) written by Janet Schulman with illustrations by Meilo So,  The Tale of Pale Male: A True Story (Harcourt, Inc., March 1, 2007) written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter and City Hawk: The Story of Pale Male (Paula Wiseman Books, Simon & Schuster, September 11, 2007) written and illustrated by Meghan McCarthy.


  1. What a wonderful round-up of birdie titles! Love this! Thanks!


    1. Thank you Brenda. I really enjoy highlighting our feathered friends.

  2. Love that you have such a variety of bird related books. Seeing your list made me aware that I have many bird books too! Can't pick a favorite from this list, they are all great!

    1. Thank you Elsie! When we start collecting for this post, we become more aware of what we have read. I can't pick a favorite either. And I can never stick with just ten.

  3. What a great collection! I only know about half of these so I definitely have some reading to do!

    1. I am so glad you enjoy this collection. I hope your are able to locate the titles you have not read yet.

  4. Hi Margie, I know many of these, and have Feathers on my list too! I don't know Thunder Birds, looks great. What a great collection! I just read a post interviewing Amy Ludwig Vanderwater who has a bird poetry book out, but in that post was a book also new, titled Beaks! by a Sneed Collard. Thought you'd like to know. Thanks for your list.

    1. Hello Linda! I learned a great deal about feathers from reading Melissa's book. Any of the books in Jim Arnosky's series are gorgeous. Thunder Birds is stunning. Thank you for the new title. I will look it up right now. And you are welcome, Linda.

  5. A gorgeous list! I share your love of bird books too. We have a thing for many of the same book themes!

    1. Thank you Carrie! I believe very strongly in being more respectful of the animals on our planet and being good stewards. Without a place for all of us to live, nothing else seems as important. I think we do have a thing for the same kinds of books. :)

  6. This IS a great list of bird books and I love that I recognize most of these titles. However, Sky Painter is a new one for me. Thanks for including it.
    Apples with Many Seeds

    1. Thank you Tammy! It's great to "meet" a fellow bird lover. I hope you enjoy Sky Painter.

  7. I'm a complete bird nerd and I write both nonfiction & fiction picture books. I have a book on red-tailed hawks coming out with Roaring Brook in 2018, illustrated by Brian Floca :), and I just sold one to Putnam on Great Horned Owls written in haikus and that's titled, Whooo-Ku :).

    I've read & enjoyed all of these except Birds of a Feather, so I'll get on that right away.

    These are some of my bird-oriented favorites:

    The Boy Who Loved Birds (an Audubon bio) by Jacqueline Davies

    You Nest Here with Me by Jane Yolen & Heidi Stemple

    Unbeatable Beaks by Stephen Swinburne

    Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of NYC by Janet Schulman

    The Barn Owls by Tony Johnston

    Vulture View & Honk Honk Goose by April Pulley Sayre

    Have You Heard the Nesting Bird by Rita Gray

    And not really NF, but Aviary Wonders by Kate Samworth is wonderful.

    I'm really looking forward to Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's Every Day Birds too!

    1. Hello Maria~
      I am excited to read the new books you are going to release. Yesterday when I was sitting at my dining room table writing on my computer, a hawk flew down, landing on a branch in a tree next to my deck. He was huge! I am sure my open mouth scared him away. I have not read the book about Audubon so that will be a fun one to seek out. I wrote a blog post about You Nest Here With Me. http://librariansquest.blogspot.com/2015/04/a-place-to-rest.html
      I did enjoy Janet Schulman's book along with the other Pale Male books listed above. Rita Gray's, April Pulley Sayre's (I love her books.), Tony Johnston's and Stephen Swinburne's books are new to me. Thank you so much! I have some great titles to search for on my next visit to the library.