Saturday, May 21, 2011

Book Reviews: More Loved Bird Books

The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon
Written by Jacqueline Davies
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Picture Book, Ages 5 and up
(Published in 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company)

My little bird-mad girls loved this story of John James Audubon, which gives a brief background, but focuses on the event which led him to be the first to definitively determine that small birds migrate during the winter and return in the spring, nesting in the same spot.

Such a beautiful book! Melissa Sweet's pictures are a treat and harmonize beautifully with Jacqueline Davies' wonderful story.

(A Cornell Lab of Ornithology Audio Field Guide)
by Donald Kroodsma
(Published in 2008 by Chronicle Books)

So engagingly written, this book is one of the best book purchases I've made; and it gets used a lot. The pages containing the bird descriptions and their habits are so interesting that you can just sit down and read for hours. The illustrations are exquisite. (I'm not sure, but I think they are the work of many artists.)
And the audio portion is amazing. The speaker does not sound tinny and fake at all. Playing the recorded birdcalls, it sounds like the actual bird is right there in the room. Too cool!
(We have yet to take it outside to use as a lure for the real birds. I'm afraid of harassing the birds by using it outside. We do use it outside to identify birds using the illustrations and descriptions, but not with the audio portion.)

Another use we've found for this marvelous book is when we read about birds in other books, especially picture books. As a read aloud mom, the only time I am stumped (well, besides encountering words in foreign languages with which I am unfamiliar) is when authors write the sounds birds make. I never know if I'm saying it properly. So, to get around that, I always pull down this book and play the actual sound. Even when they don't write the sound, it's still fun to use with stories featuring birds: it takes the experience of reading the book to another level, making it more real.

The birds Audubon was studying in Jacqueline Davies' book were Pewees, and when we came to the sounds, we grabbed this oh-so wonderful book off our bookshelf. We went to the index, found the right pages and within a few seconds were listening to the real Pewee bird sounds. Whenever the sound came up in the book, one of my girls would push play on this marvelous book.

Can you tell we love it?


  1. I've seen that Audubon title around the blogosphere before, but I've never heard if the other one. They both look great!

  2. I found the birdsong book at Costco two springs ago. And boy, has it been used! It made an excellent pairing with Jacqueline Davies book.

  3. I'm finding that you have a similar taste in books to us...we're on a similar wavelength, I guess :)
    We recently read "The Boy Who Drew Birds", and we currently have a copy of the "The Backyard Birdsong Guide" at home from the library! We've also been enjoying it immensely, and have pulled it out many times to learn more about various birds.

  4. You know, I thought the same thing when I visited your blog. Yay! I love finding same wavelength people! (Differences are good, too. Keeps you on your toes.)

  5. Thanks for posting to Book Talk Tuesday- that is a beautiful biography!