Review: Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual by Kate Samworth

aviary wonders

Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual by Kate Samworth

Birds are steadily going extinct, but Aviary Wonders Inc. has the solution.  Ever since 2031, they have been providing a fun and engaging way to create your own avian companion.  Each bird is made up of high-quality parts that you can put together in unique ways that never existed in nature.  You can keep your bird or set it free.  Teach it to sing and fly.  Assembly is as easy as putting together a book case.  To get started, just select the body type that you want to start with.  After that, you can pick out the beak, tail, legs, feet, wings and crests.  Assembly instructions are included in the book as are directions for feeding and caring for your pet bird.  This clever and creepy look at a potential future for birds serves as a warning for all.

Samworth marries a warning about loss of habitat and food for birds with a catalog that hearkens back to turn of the century catalogs and the wonders they contained.  There is definitely a strange and frightening factor on every page.  While the beaks, tails and wings are beautifully drawn, the images of the beakless birds turns it all odd and stomach-twisting.  It is that interplay of disturbing and lovely that makes the book very effective.

The art in the book is a large part of its success.  Samworth honors the variety and beauty of birds while also making them firmly her own with the wild colors, naming of the different styles, and hawking of her “wares.”  The image of the sepia-toned beakless, legless and featherless bird resting on a pillow is profoundly wrong in just the right way. 

Full of black humor, creepy sales pitch jargon and a message of how close we are to truly losing entire types of creatures, this book is beautiful, moving and frightening.  Appropriate for ages 8-12.

Reviewed from library copy.