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.

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