Sunday, September 13, 2015

Book Review: Aviary Wonders Inc.

Aviary Wonders Inc.Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual Renewing the World’s Bird Supply Since 2031
Text and Illustrations by Kate Samworth
Clarion Books, 2014

Review by Jenise Porter
Most of my Young Adult reading group colleagues are teachers or school or public librarians. They know that I am a birder and now that I have been retired for a while they send me recommendations about “bird” books that I should read. I knew there was something special when three friends sent notes saying I absolutely had to see the new book called Aviary Wonders. I like to buy children’s or Young Adult books to read and then pass on to a child so I headed down to the Nature shop to purchase a copy of this book.

My friends were not mistaken. This is a gorgeous book, lavishly illustrated with shapes and colors of birds, some whimsical and some not so much. The premise of the book is that birds have gone extinct through use of insecticides, habitat loss, the exotic pet trade and CATS! Thus the subtitle “Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual.”

One can peruse the catalog and order bird parts to put together to create a creature that may or may not fly, depending on the way the parts go together. There are Legs and Feet, Feathers, Bodies, Beaks, Tails and Wings, Crests and Collars. There are instructions for teaching the assembled bird to fly and to sing and a section on Troubleshooting.

The true test of a picture book is to try it out on kids so I chose it, along with a more traditional narrative, to read to a 4th grade class at Holladay school for Love of Reading Week. Hats off to Kendall Kroesen if this was a group of students he has worked with because they knew about extinction and they knew what kinds of beaks and feet predators have and they understood why different wings create different kinds of abilities. It was an enormously entertaining half hour and when we finished I donated the book to the Holladay school library.

As a former librarian, I consider it my responsibility, and pleasure, to present children I know with books for birthdays, Christmas and whatever other holidays I can think of. If you are looking for a wonderful picture book about birds or other aspects of the natural world, I suggest you browse the selection at the Tucson Audubon Nature Shop. I never fail to find some excellent choices like this one!

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