Tuesday, October 16, 2018

About Woodpeckers

Part of a series, this title looks at, well, woodpeckers. The text is simple, usually one or two sentences on a white background facing a large plate that features an illustration of an individual species. While the text is generalized, discussing basic characteristics common to most woodpeckers, seventeen of the eighteen plates look at a single type of woodpecker out of the more than two hundred species around the world. The eighteenth is a squirrel using a woodpeckers hole as its home.


The Afterword provides details, plate by plate, on specific birds. The watercolor illustrations are clear and detailed, showing features that might be harder to see in photographs, and include glimpses of the habitat. The size and length make this a great introduction for preschoolers and students through about second grade and may inspire them to look for those woodpeckers they can find in their area.

Northern flicker
(photo by J. Larson)

Pair this with Woodpeckers: Drilling Holes & Bagging Bugs by Sneed Collard for older readers. Also helpful for teachers and parents is the publisher's guide to the series, which offers some extension ideas to use with any title in the series. Other bird titles in the series explore birds in general, parrots, hummingbirds, and penguins.


FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy from the publisher. I receive no compensation for reviewing the book.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Magnificent Birds

Beautiful linocut illustrations of fourteen birds from around the world fill each page in Narisa Togo's Magnificent Birds. Text accompanies each double page spread to briefly describe the bird's attributes, diet, appearance, habitat, and special features.  In order of appearance, the included birds are the bald eagle, Andean flamingo, greater bird of paradise, red-crowned crane, common kingfisher, toco toucan, ruby-throated hummingbird, bar-tailed godwit, wandering albatross, Australian pelican, barn owl, emperor penguin, kakapo, and the peregrine falcon. With the exception of a couple that are widespread, each is labeled for the area of the world where it is found. No mention is made of the others in a species, like the flamingo or the crane, that can be found elsewhere. The book was originally published in Great Britain by Walker Studios and many online book retailers show the British cover (which features the red-crowned crane). Although the book is short, an index or bird list would be helpful.


The illustrations are richly detailed and include a glimpse of the habitat: forests, waterways, cliff faces, and gardens. Linocut is a printmaking technique that allows for a grainy texture, with subdued colors that give the illustrations an almost retro look. Because linoleum is easy to obtain and work with, linocut is often used with children and it would be a lot of fun for them to create and print their own local birds. Easy to follow instructions are readily available at sites like Art for Small Hands.

Although I think adults will appreciate the information and illustrations, the book is intended for readers in grades 5-9. I'll be donating this review copy to our local kid birding team.


FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy from the publisher. I receive no compensation for reviewing the book.