Look Up!: Bird-watching in your own backyard
Written and illustrated by Annette Leblanc Cate
Candlewick Press. 2013
Grades 4 and up
The publisher sent a copy for review.
If you have students, friends, or you yourself are interested in learning how to identify birds then read Look Up! It is a terrific introduction to not just watching birds, but how to sketch them as well. Cate’s cartoon illustrations of birds, dozens of them, chatting about their unique and distinctive characteristics are combined with tons of birding facts, great suggestions for how to observe birds, and helpful tips on sketching what you see. Go here and click on ‘view an inside slide’)
Bird watching doesn’t have to include high tech instruments. The author recommends leaving your binoculars inside. Instead, one needs practice seeing the whole bird..its shape, size, and the way it moves. Birds are, by far, the easiest-to-see of all wild creatures. No matter how small your corner of the world, there will be some birds in it. You might be amazed at just how thrilling it can be to see new birds, find out about them, and learn their names.
Cate goes on to emphasize that by spending time outside observing what’s around you can help you to see the world of birds in a whole new way. When you take the time to sit and patiently draw them [birds], you do more than see them: you experience them. You feel more connected to the natural world, more at home in it. Cate believes that once you become aware of the birds in your backyard, and you've paid attention to their shape, color, habits, and songs, then is the time to open a field guide to find out more details. Great advice!
As I said earlier, there is so much detail in this book, but one never feels overwhelmed. This book is perfect for those who learn best with the combination of picture and text. Placed throughout are side charts with more information. Also, a bibliography, and an index.
Even the endpapers are packed with tips for enjoying this life-long hobby. Cate says, One of the best things about bird-watching is that it’s a hobby that you can have for your whole life. And if you keep sketchbooks, you’ll have a record of your lifelong pursuit, and that will be an amazing thing to have. This definitely will be one of my top Ten books for 2013.
Display with Bateman’s Backyard Birds by Robert Bateman, and The Boy who Drew Birds: a story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davies; illustrated by Melissa Sweet.