Total Pageviews

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Children's Guide to Arctic Birds, by Mia Pelletier. Illustrated by Danny Christopher. Inhabit Media, Fitzhenry & Whiteside. 2014. $16.95 ages 8 and up

Finding a bird's nest is like
finding a secret treasure.
Nests come in many different
shapes and sizes, and eggs 
can have bright colours and
interesting patterns. If you 
find a nest, stay just a moment
for a quiet peek."  
 Bird enthusiasts will be happy to see this new book about some of those birds that call the Far North home. The endpapers give a hint at the twelve birds we will meet in its pages. The table of contents allows readers to have a clear look at just what is included in the guide. An introduction and two following sections concerning bird measurements, and feathers, bills and feet lead us straight to a list of the birds that we will meet on follow-up double page spreads.

We learn that there are good reasons for so many different bird species to migrate to or live in the Arctic:

"The Arctic summer is rich with food, and birds arrive in the millions to fill their bellies and raise their young. The air buzzes with insects, the ocean leaps with fish, wet places on the tundra swarm with tiny larvae, and fresh green plants reach for the sun. The Arctic sun shines both day and night, and birds can hunt around the clock."

Not a bad way to spend the summer! Each of the following spreads offers a similar layout, making it easy to follow for children wanting to know more about the birds that spend time in this northern climate. As with so many things that are new to us, the more we learn the more we care about such beautiful and rarely seen birds. There are the migratory birds, as well as the ones who make the Arctic their year-round home:

"By learning where birds nest, what they eat, and how they call, we learn to open our eyes and pay attention to the little things in nature. When we follow the flash of a bird's wing across the tundra, or part the grass at a pond's edge to see a loon sitting quietly on her nest, we forget ourselves for a moment, and remember our place among the wildness of things."

Nearly 200 species nest there, and in this first guide we meet only a few. Hopefully that means we might expect to see a follow-up book. The categories included for each of the featured birds are as follows: Where to Look, What They Eat, Listen For, Nest, Egg, Chick, and During the Winter? Short paragraphs provide just the right amount of information to keep the reader interested, and will likely encourage some to go looking for more information. Isn't that the best thing about nonfiction picture books?

For each entry, the author adds the Inuktitut name, the body length and the measurement of the wingspan. They vary greatly in size, look, and ability to adapt to their environment. Each spread includes a Feathered Fact that is sure to be of great interest to budding ornithologists. For instance, the common eider's page includes this additional fact:

"At sea, ducklings float together in a crèche (the French word for cradle) that can contain over a hundred ducklings! Female eiders that haven't had their own young help to care for the ducklings in this floating daycare."  Fascinating, to say the least!

No comments:

Post a Comment