Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual

Overview

Since 2031, Aviary Wonders Inc. has offered bird lovers a unique opportunity: Assemble your own bird from stunningly beautiful and carefully hand-crafted parts. The birds can even be taught to fly and to sing! This slyly satirical crafter's delight is offered as the perfect antidote to extinction of birds in the wild.

Brilliantly illustrated with oil paintings and filled with laugh-aloud asides as well as sobering facts about extinct species, this mock catalog is a clever ...

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Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual

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Overview

Since 2031, Aviary Wonders Inc. has offered bird lovers a unique opportunity: Assemble your own bird from stunningly beautiful and carefully hand-crafted parts. The birds can even be taught to fly and to sing! This slyly satirical crafter's delight is offered as the perfect antidote to extinction of birds in the wild.

Brilliantly illustrated with oil paintings and filled with laugh-aloud asides as well as sobering facts about extinct species, this mock catalog is a clever send-up of contemporary sales spin and a thought-provoking look into an all-too-possible future.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Sarah Harrison Smith
…perfect for older children with an appreciation for irony. An understanding of the environmental threats to species diversity would help, too, for there's pathos to Samworth's premise, thankfully offset by her brilliantly detailed and arresting illustrations.
Publishers Weekly
★ 01/20/2014
Unsettling and unforgettable, this faux-catalog purports to replace extinct bird species with build-a-bird automatons. Sub-subtitled “Renewing the World’s Bird Supply Since 2031,” the compendium opens with earnest words from its founder, who “discovered a passion for bird watching while working for my family’s logging company”: “We can’t replace the birds that have been lost. But we can provide you with the opportunity to create an exquisite alternative.” Samworth, making her debut, marries conventional sales language to florid multimedia illustrations of disembodied bird parts “handcrafted and made to order by world-class artisans.” Bird bodies (e.g., moa, swan, condor), sans beaks, wings, or feet, are presented as basic options. Shoppers choose from “hardwood or porcelain” strap-on beaks, screw-on legs, durable silk wings, and optional “embellishments” like the gaudy “Rockette” crest or the ocean-blue “Rachel Carson” wattles “made from recycled rubber.” A closing section on assembly, with instructions for teaching the robotic birds to fly and sing, only deepens the uncanny sense of loss. This cautionary guidebook mimes ads that fetishize wildlife; Samworth’s bracing irony will stimulate discussion among conservationists. Ages 9–12. Agent: Nancy Gallt, Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. (Mar.)
From the Publisher

"This futuristic mail-order catalog offers hand-crafted parts for ambitious do-it-yourselfers who want to assemble a customized bird. . . The ecological subtext will resonate with some environmentally concerned children and adults who hope such a catalog will not become a necessary reality."
School Library Journal

"For children and their bird-watching parents, who will appreciate the clever premise and the message of admiration."
Kirkus, starred review

"This is an original, somewhat disturbing, and wholeheartedly bizarre (but in a good way!) picture book for older children. . . An impressive picture book debut."
Booklist, starred review

"Unsettling and unforgettable."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"This is as cleverly executed as it is edifying...The gilding-the-lily exaggeration of birds’ natural beauty is satire at its child-appropriate best, and the subtle digs at our perennial efforts to domesticate animals for our pleasure won’t be lost on young readers."
—Bulletin

School Library Journal
01/01/2014
Gr 4–8—This futuristic mail-order catalog offers hand-crafted parts for ambitious do-it-yourselfers who want to assemble a customized bird. Founded in 2031 after bird populations declined due to habitat loss, insecticides, and other factors, Aviary Wonders provides an "exquisite alternative" to the originals. Part of the book's wry humor derives from its use of advertising language. Customers are urged to purchase a second beak for 25 percent off so they can dress up their bird "for special occasions." Pages of bodies, legs, tails, and other parts feature advice on making appropriate choices to ensure components work together well. Optional embellishments, such as the resplendent Hearst collar or twining green Thoreau wattle and comb, make visual references to their namesakes. The detailed, richly colored paintings of the parts are followed by step-by-step instructions and sepia-toned illustrations that underscore the ridiculous undertaking of assembling birds by joining sections with straps and belts. Advice on how to teach the bird to fly and sing underscores the absurdity of the enterprise. Tucked on the descriptive pages are small notes about the decline and extinction of various species. Although the book's offbeat humor may puzzle many readers, the ecological subtext will resonate with some environmentally concerned children and adults who hope such a catalog will not become a necessary reality.—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-01-04
A catalog of bird parts and instructions for making your own in a sadly possible future in which living birds have nearly disappeared. Feathers, beaks, legs and feet, bodies, tails and even flight styles can be ordered from this enterprising company, whose motto is "Renewing the World's Bird Supply Since 2031." Written and illustrated (in oil, ink, graphite and colored pencil) in the style of traditional mail-order inventories, this weaves in a surprising amount of genuine bird information while displaying the variety of interchangeable parts. Body and wing shapes fit different purposes. Legs and feet are adjusted for habitat, and beaks must match potential food. There are decorative streamers, collars and crests. The illustrations reflect actual birds; in spite of decorative coloration, beaks and wings are recognizable as identified. If a model is based on a bird now critically endangered or extinct (such as the slender-billed curlew, great auk and passenger pigeon), the label points it out. The author also enumerates actual bird threats: insecticides, habitat loss, the exotic pet trade and cats. Finally, careful instructions for assembly and training are included. Don't teach your bird a song you don't want to hear over and over! For children and their bird-watching parents, who will appreciate the clever premise and the message of admiration. (Picture book. 10 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547978994
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 3/4/2014
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 227,692
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Kate Samworth

Kate Samworth studied (and taught) painting at the New Orleans Academy of Fin

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