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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

My Book of Birds, written and illustrated by Geraldo Valerio. Groundwood, 2016. $24.95 ages 6 and up

"Hummingbirds are some of the smallest birds in the world. They flap their wings so quickly that they seem to float in the air as they dip their bills into flowers to drink nectar. They also eat little insects, often in flight. These tiny birds can fly at high speeds, and they can even fly upside down and backwards!"

The final book for today is this stylish album of North American birds. A large number are described. The author is originally from Brazil and now lives in Toronto. His love of birds goes back to his childhood as he explains in an introduction:

"I love the variety of birds, their colored feathers and their sense of freedom. When I moved to Canada, I discovered many birds new to me. For the first time I saw cormorants, sandpipers, gulls, jays and warblers. Herons, too!"

His fascination with the work of Audubon led him to try his hand at working in collage using old magazine paper, art paper and gift wrap to capture the essence of the birds he loved to watch. We are the lucky readers who have the opportunity to share the fruits of that labor, put together in an album that invites careful observation of the images created artistically to accompany short, clear bits of information for each one.

Each is labelled with its common and its Latin name. A short passage describes its prominent features, and pages often include other bits of information to add interest. Accessible to young readers, it is sure to be appreciated by those wanting to know more about the birds they are likely to see in their neighborhoods, on walks, or travelling; all the while improving their bird watching talents.

The images created are absolutely lovely to study, and the endpapers are a special treat. At the front, the author provides captioned illustrations of the eggs of each of the species included; the back does the same with a variety of feathers. A short glossary, a list for further reading and an index are also useful.

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