Birds: Explore their Extraordinary World
by Miranda Krestovnikoff
illustrated by Angela Harding
review copy provided by the publisher (thanks!)
FIRST THE PICTURE BOOK
This is a gorgeous oversized nonfiction picture book. Illustrated with fine art linocuts, the information is grouped by types of birds, by notable characteristics (feathers, beaks and eyes), then by nests, migration, songs, and extremes (cold and urban living). Within each category there are big subcategories, and then each subcategory has short example sections. For example, in the category SEABIRDS are the two subcategories Seabirds of warmer waters and Seabirds of colder waters. In Seabirds of colder waters the reader learns about Gulls, Great black-backed gulls, Kittiwakes, and Gannets. This is a great book for browsing. You'll definitely be drawn in by the illustrations and then you'll find yourself perusing the bite-sized text chunks. The only thing that would make it better would be an index.
AND NOW THE POEMPAIR
Is it cheating to pair an entire book of poems? Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds, edited by Billy Collins and illustrated by David Allen Sibley is the most obvious pairing. Lots of fun poems plus gorgeous illustrations.
If it's cheating to pair a whole book, I'll choose the poem Bird-Understander by Craig Arnold. This poem about someone who notices a bird trapped in the terminal of the airport; someone who notices the wrong in the world and who is desperate to help, to right the wrong. Birding requires close observation. There's much to learn about the natural history of birds if you bother to look closely, but just like in life, the closer you look, the more you are likely to see all kinds of problems that need work.
One of the problems connected to birding is racism. If you want to dig in more deeply, here is the story of Christian Cooper and a link to the (free) comic he wrote about what happened to him in Central Park when he was birding last spring.
A video to share with students features Corina Newsome, who broke stereotypes associated with becoming an environmentalist. She is a woman of color who grew up in an urban environment but became a zookeeper who has worked with turkey vultures as an Ambassador Animal Keeper at the Nashville Zoo.