Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen
Feathers do so many things for birds and this book looks at all of the ways that feathers help birds in the wild. Sixteen different birds are featured in the book, each one with a specific focus on what they use their feathers for. There is the wood duck who lines her nest with feathers to keep her eggs cushioned. The red-tailed hawk uses their feather to protect them from the sun as they fly for hours. Other birds use their feathers in unique ways like the rosy-faced lovebird who tucks nesting materials into her rump feathers to take back to where she is building her nest. Towards the end of the book, the author looks at all of the different sorts of feathers that birds have.
Stewart tells readers in her Author Note that this was a book she had worked on for some time as an idea. Her use of metaphors to show what feathers do is an inspired choice, making the book all the more accessible for children. She provides details with specific birds, explaining how they use their feathers and also providing little pieces of information on how the birds live and their habitats.
The watercolor illustrations are done to look like a naturalists field journal with scraps of paper, loose feathers, notes, cup rings, and scraps of fabric. All of the images of the birds have their locations as well, adding to the field journal feel. The result is richly visual book that may inspire readers to start their own bird journals.
This is a book that will instruct and amaze, just the right sort of science book for young readers. Appropriate for ages 6-9.
Reviewed from copy received from Charlesbridge.
Maple by Lori Nichols
This is one amazing debut picture book. Maple loved her name. When she was a baby, her parents had planted a maple tree in their yard. It was tiny just like her and as Maple grew so did the maple tree. Her tree never minded if she was loud even though her parents did sometimes. Maple loved to be outside with her tree. She would sway along with it, pretend to be a tree and spend time gazing up into its branches and leaves. When the tree lost its leaves in the fall, Maple gave it her coat to keep it warm. Throughout the winter, the two played together. Then in the spring, there were new surprises! A new tree in the ground and a new baby in the family. It is Maple who figures out exactly what to do to keep her new sister happy.
Clever and very satisfying, this book is an exceptional debut. Nichols sets just the right tone with her prose. From the very first page, you know that she understands children’s books and the way to structure and write them. The story is clearly presented and the arc of the tale is nicely plotted and designed. One knows that it is building towards something, but the book is willing to take the right amount of time to get there. The book reads like a veteran author wrote it.
The illustrations are also impressive. They have a lovely softness to them that is very pleasing. The colors are muted but very effective. My favorite pages are when Maple looks up into the tree and you see her through the leaves. It is all beautifully done.
Take it from someone who named one of her children after a tree and then planted one for him to grow up with, this book captures children, love for nature and new siblings with grace and style. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Nancy Paulsen Books.
Big thanks to Bookshelves of Doom for a heads up about this!
The finalists for the 2014 Lambda Literary Awards have been announced. The finalists for the LGBT Children’s and Young Adult category are:
Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
Boy in Box by Christopher R. Michael
Girls I’ve Run Away With by Rhiannon Argo
If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan
Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg
Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler
Secret City by Julia Watts
The Secret Ingredient by Stewart Lewis
The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth