Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Beautiful Birds by Jean Roussen, illustrated by Emmanuelle Walker

Ever since I put together a birdwatching station in our library (which, to be totally honest, turned out to be more of a "sparrow-watching and coloring station") I've become obsessed with buying every more bird books for the library.

While I love to find beautifully-written bird books, even better are those that are stunningly illustrated. This joyous alphabet book definitely falls into the latter category.

The endpapers are an eye-searing neon orange, speckled with bird eggs and one tiny chick, who pops out of the shell to produce a "this book belongs to" speech bubble. The neon orange is repeated in little hints throughout the illustrations, from the underside of airplanes, joining albatrosses in the skies to the flowers visited by the hummingbirds and their ruby throats. They get around the difficult letters of the alphabet by using ultramarine for U (kingfisher, flycatcher, and lorikeet) and V for a goose flying formation.

The illustrations are colorful and have a modern, smooth style that is fun to look at. I could definitely see these pictures making excellent cards or a fun board book, a la Charley Harper. In fact, there's quite a bit of similarity between the styles, although there's more variety and fanciful color in Walker's art. I'm a little disappointed by the text, which I found rather pedestrian. I'm generally not a fan of rhymed picture books and the rhyming couplets felt forced and heavy-handed to me "N is for nightingales who sing us to sleep, and for nuthatches who bore into trees deep." However, the lovely illustrations make up for deficiencies in the text and families will enjoy poring over the book together.

Verdict: There are a lot of alphabet books out there, but the gorgeous art of this one sets it apart, even if the text is not particularly memorable. An excellent addition if you are looking to add to your bird or alphabet books.

ISBN: 9781909263291; Published 2015 by Flying Eye Books; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

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