How To Find A Bird – by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Diana Sudyka

    How To Find A Bird – by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Diana Sudyka, Beach Lane (an imprint of Simon & Schuster), 9781481467056, 2020 

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Format: Hardcover

What did you like about the book?  2020 has been a smashing year for picture books about birds (fortuitous as we’re all trapped indoors looking at our feeders) and here’s yet another must-have addition to the ranks. This book, with its beautiful and expressive full-page watercolors, follows two children, a younger girl with black hair in pigtails and an older boy with brown skin, as they learn how to find birds from an omnipresent narrator. The children share a pair of binoculars as they roam about, looking for birds everywhere. The narrator provides lots of practical advice: blend in and move slowly, look down and near water, close your eyes and listen. Most of the birds pictured are ordinary and likely to be encountered even in urban environments or along a beach, although the child who gets to see a tundra swan and its cygnets would be lucky indeed. The illustrations have enough detail to be useful, but are also very beautiful and lush. I loved that the text was clear and easy to find, alternating between white and black, depending on its placement, while the labels identifying species seemed to be hand-drawn with a fine point Sharpie.  An unforgettable two page spread shows a cacophony of bird calls, each with its own flowing and free-hand lettering ((“Who cooks for you?” “Yididi, Yididi, Yididi” and “Old Sam Peabody Peabody Peabody!).  Helpful information about how to get started in bird watching and ways to become a citizen scientist along with beautiful endpapers featuring bird nests and houses complete the package.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No. It will be up to an adult to point out that birds migrate and populate specific regional territories and that one would not expect to see roseatte spoonbills and long-earred owls on the same walk.

To whom would you recommend this book?  The large and vivid illustrations and simple text would make this a great read aloud for children from age 4-8. Easy to recommend to children or families looking for solid advice about getting started in birding. This could also be valuable for a classroom teacher starting a unit on birds and their habitats.

Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries.

Where would you shelve it? Picture books or 598.072

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes (I’m a sucker for bird books, but this really is a knock-out!)

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: December 8, 2020

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