Please welcome my guest author today, Maria Gianferrari, with her picture book list of favorite bird picture books! We are also giving away a copy of You and the Bowerbird. To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom. This giveaway ends in 7 days (usually my giveaways last 30 days).
As a proud bird nerd and birdologist I am as happy as a lark to share some of my favorite bowerbird, bird-ing, and bird-ish books in celebration of our new book, You and the Bowerbird, with illustrations by the incomparable Maris Wicks, published by Roaring Brook Press.
Let’s start off with something that every bird has—a beak!
Favorite Bowerbird & Bird-ing Books
A Peek at Beaks: Tools Birds Use by Sara Levine, illustrated by Kate Slater
With a fun Q&A structure, Levine sparks curiosity, asking readers to wonder what kinds of birds have differently shaped tool-like beaks that work like nets, pliers, tweezers, tongs, and more. Complemented by Slater’s silhouettes and lively art, the book shows how these beaks are adaptations based on both how (cracking, probing, straining…) and what birds eat nuts, insects, worms, fish, etc. Highly informative. [nonfiction picture book, ages 5 and up]
Birds of a Feather: Bowerbirds and Me by Susan L. Roth
Roth’s picture book is part creative memoir: both she and satin bowerbirds are collectors and artists working in their respective habitats, collecting the bits and pieces around them to make a beautiful and pleasing arrangement. In the Satin bowerbird’s case, it’s an arrangement for performing courtship rituals, and for Roth, it’s for the ritual of storytelling through her chosen medium of collage. A book about the art of beauty, and the beauty of art. [nonfiction picture book, ages 4 and up]
Backyard Birding for Kids by Erika Zambello
An introductory guide for beginning kid birders, Zambello begins with a tale of her own “spark” bird, the phrase birders use to show which bird launched their interest in birding. The book covers topics about bird anatomy, flight, life cycles, migration, habitat, and conservation. It also features a built-in field guide, info about birding equipment such as binoculars, and ends with activities, like starting a nature journal, and projects such as making homemade birdseed as well as resources for preventing bird-window collisions. Sure to spark wonder for budding birders. [nonfiction picture book, ages 4 and up]
Counting Birds: The Idea that Helped Save Our Feathered Friends by Heidi E.Y. Stemple, illustrated by Clover Robin
Stemple’s biography recounts how Frank Chapman, a lover of birds, changed the public’s thinking by convincing hunters to change their focus from an annual Christmas day bird hunt—where the winners killed the most birds, to an annual Christmas bird count, tallying the variety of observed birds. Each year, more and more people joined the count and recorded their bird observations, and then the National Audubon Society compiled the data, important information to track bird populations. The Annual Christmas Bird Count is the longest-running community science census project. With lovely collage art by Clover Robin, an ideal illustrator name for a bird book!) [nonfiction picture book, ages 3 and up]
How to Find a Bird by Jennifer Ward & illustrated by Diana Sudyka
Both Jennifer Ward and Diana Sudyka are two of my favorite kid-lit creators, and this brilliant collaboration begs to be read aloud. Ward’s lyrical text, an introductory guide for the littlest bird watchers, shows budding birders where to find birds: up and down on the ground, on and under the water, even at eye level where they blend with bark. If you put out a birdfeeder, all you need is a window view. What’s the best way to find a bird? Listen! Birdsong is all around us! Sudyka’s gorgeously intricate art paints the avian details of all the found birds. Don’t miss the back matter for bird-watching tips. [nonfiction picture book, ages 4 and up]
I am also a fan of Ward’s other bird books:
I Love Birds! 52 Ways to Wonder, Wander, and Explore Birds with Kids by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Alexander Vidal
This book is seasonally structured and chock full of information, questions to ask when observing bird behavior, fun projects and so much more! A must for all bird nerds! [nonfiction middle grade, ages 8 and up]
And another all-time favorite …
Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by the late, great Steve Jenkins
The Nest that Wren Built by Randi Sonenshine, illustrated by Anne Hunter
Sonenshine’s text, modeled after “The House that Jack Built,” uses pleasing poetic language to tell a cumulative story about a nesting pair of Carolina wrens. This rhythmic read-aloud is jaunty joyful and scientifically accurate; we watch the wren pair build a nest, lay their eggs on a velvet bed of moss, and observe as chicks grow from hatchlings to nestlings to fledglings, flying off on their own. Hunter’s earth-toned art complements the coziness of the text. The book wraps up with wren facts and a glossary of bird-related terms. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
Night Owl Night by Susan Edwards Richmond, illustrated by Maribel Lechuga
Richmond’s book is a homage to another favorite birding classic, Owl Moon (written by Jane Yolen), and is a story about a mother-ornithologist and her young bird-loving and budding scientist daughter who’s eager to join in on an evening owl-prowl. Young Sova must wait, and when she’s finally ready to join, there’s more waiting still… Finally, the special nets they’ve set have caught a Sawwhet owl. They measure and band it to track and study the owl’s movements, then release it back into the night. Lechuga’s luminous illustrations brighten this tale of capture, release, and conservation. [nonfiction picture book, ages 4 and up]
Bird Count by Susan Edwards Richmond, illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman
Richmond’s Bird Count, with vibrant art by Stephanie Fizer Coleman, is a mother-daughter duo Christmas Bird Count story. [nonfiction picture book, ages 4 and up]
She Heard the Birds: The Story of Florence Merriam Bailey by Andrea D’Acquino
I have this one on my to-read list: the story of Florence Merriam Bailey, a pioneering ornithologist-naturalist and bird-lover, horrified by the then popular practice of killing birds to harvest their bodies and feathers to make hats, so highly fashionable and in demand at the time that some species were in danger of extinction. Luckily for birds, Bailey’s scientific studies, observations, and activism helped end this heinous trend and inspired conservation and the study of birds in their natural habitats. [nonfiction picture book, ages 5 and up]
The Bowerbird by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Catherine Rayner
This title features a fictional bowerbird named Bert. I haven’t yet read it, but I thought I’d share it in case it piques your interest. [nonfiction picture book, ages 4 and up]
Hawk Rising by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Brian Floca
Lastly, Hawk Rising, co-created with Caldecott-winning illustrator Brian Floca, features another backyard birder who observes a red-tailed hawk father hunting to feed his chicks (aka eyases) in her neighborhood.
Hawk Rising was inspired by the red-tailed hawks that began nesting annually on the campus of Cornell University in 2012, Big Red and her then-mate, Ezra. Sadly, Ezra sustained a severe wing fracture that could not be repaired, so he was humanely euthanized. The book is dedicated to Ezra; his legacy lives on through all the chicks that they together raised. Big Red and her next mate, Arthur, have since raised many clutches of chicks. [nonfiction picture book, ages 5 and up]
You can be a virtual bird-watcher when you check out the Cornell Lab of Ornithology webcam:
You can also follow them on Instagram: @cornellbirdcams, and X: @CornellHawks
Can you tell that I love birds? So does Maris as you will see from her amazing bowerbird illustrations in our book!
You and the Bowerbird GIVEAWAY!
Thanks to the generosity of our publisher, Roaring Brook Press, we’re giving away a copy of You and the Bowerbird (US addresses only due to postage costs—sorry!). This giveaway ends in 7 days.
And thanks to Mia for letting me chirp and cheer about bird-ing books!
Maria Gianferrari is a community scientist, self-taught naturalist, and bird nerd who holds an M.A. in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in English. She is the author of nonfiction picture books that celebrate urban ecosystems, the natural world, and our wild neighbors. Maria lives in Massachusetts and loves bird-watching from her kitchen window while sipping her morning cup of tea. Her next title with Roaring Brook Press, To Dogs, With Love, releases in December. Maria’s Being a Cat: A Tail of Curiosity was released in April; other forthcoming 2023 titles include Thank a Farmer (September) and Fungi Grow (October).
Maris Wicks is a writer and illustrator of science comics, as well as a self-proclaimed gigantic nerd. She has written, drawn, and colored comics for First Second Books, New England Aquarium, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, as well as Spongebob Comics, Marvel Comics, and DC Comics. She has an ongoing collaboration with science communicator/comic artist Rosemary Mosco to bring you Your Wild City, a weekly webcomic about urban ecology.
When she is not busy making comics, Wicks can be found prepping slides for her collection of vintage microscopes, traveling, scuba diving, hiking, and baking cookies (though never all of those things all at once). She was a program educator at the New England Aquarium for eight years, teaching kids about how awesome marine science is. Now, her work in science education and outreach continues into her comics work: Wicks was the science outreach communicator for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution onboard the R/V Atlantis for Popping Rocks Cruise in March/April of 2016. Most recently, she was in Antarctica as a part of the USAP Artists & Writers grant, working on a graphic novel about life and science in Antarctica.
Maris is Wicks is the illustrator of The New York Times Bestselling book Primates, by Jim Ottaviani (2013), the graphic novel, Human Body Theater (2015), Coral Reefs (2016), and Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier by Jim Ottaviani (2020), and the picture book Dragon Bones by Sarah Glenn Marsh (2022).
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