Monday, December 19, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: I dreamed of flying like a bird by Robert Haas

I wanted to like this book. It's gotten some really good reviews and I usually enjoy Nat'l Geographic's animal books for kids and middle grade readers. But it left me unsatisfied. Is it a book about photography? About animals? About preservation? About science? A little of each, but not enough of any, was my feeling. Like a coffee table book only for kids.

I admit some of this ambivalence comes from my preference for close up, detailed photography, like Nic Bishop's work or the photography in the Scientists in the Field series (a lot of which is his work anyways). The big picture just doesn't really grab me.

If you're one of the few people who haven't seen this book yet, it switches back and forth between Haas' career as an aerial photographer, with photography terms, tricks and dangers of the trade and a little about his background and the context and background of some of his most famous photos.

Hmm. I think what bothered me about this was I had a hard time connecting the text to the photographs. After I'd read the book a couple times it was easier to connect the text to the progression of the photographs, but I think it would have made a big difference if the book had been laid out differently, or maybe the photos had captions. Some can easily be connected to the story - like the buffaloes and lions, while others like the whales are confusing, since some photos seem to be random whale shots and others are specifically described in the text.

Verdict: This book wasn't for me, but quite a few people have fallen in love with it. If you feel a need for a photo heavy, general animal book in your nonfiction section, go for it. I'll stick with Scientists in the Field and Nat'l Geographic's Face to Face series.

ISBN: 9781426306938; Published September 2010 by National Geographic; Borrowed from the library

1 comment:

Myra Garces-Bacsal from GatheringBooks said...

Hi! Thanks for such a thorough review - I don't particularly go for illustrations in picture books - for some reason I get a heavy magazine-feel to it [which I don't really prefer] rather than the feel of actual books - thank you for sharing your candid thoughts! :)