Birdwatchers

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Overview

A grandfather shares with his grandchild the quiet wonder of birdwatching - and a wry talent for telling a tall tale.


"When I go birdwatching, things happen," Granddad tells little Jess. Sometimes, he says, while he’s drawing pictures of the birds, they draw
pictures of him. And sometimes they help him ...

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Overview

A grandfather shares with his grandchild the quiet wonder of birdwatching - and a wry talent for telling a tall tale.


"When I go birdwatching, things happen," Granddad tells little Jess. Sometimes, he says, while he’s drawing pictures of the birds, they draw
pictures of him. And sometimes they help him out by finding their own names in his bird book. "Birds are amazing," says Granddad, but Jess isn’t so sure. So one day she goes birdwatching with Granddad to see for herself.

With expressive line-and-wash drawings, Simon James captures the leafy grandeur of the outdoors and the warm, special rapport between a child and a granddad, illustrating once again the huge happiness to be found in little things.

Intrigued by her granddad's stories of what happens when he goes birdwatching, Jess decides to accompany him one day.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The pacing of James's (Leon and Bob) meditative tale takes its cue from the avocation he salutes. Granddad tells the narrator, "Jess, when I go birdwatching, things happen." The opening pen-and-ink and watercolor wash depicts a mild-mannered bespectacled fellow with a cap and binoculars. But the narrative quickly takes a turn: the elderly gent explains that, when he sketches the birds, they sometimes make drawings of him as well (the accompanying illustration shows man and feathered friend perched high on a tree limb, sketch pads and pencils in hand er, wing). They even help him locate their names in his bird book. These antics make for humorous, understated visuals, and the stories inspire Jess to tag along one day. At first, "Nothing happened." Peering out from a birdwatching hut, however, the duo spies various species ("Yellow Warblers, Ring-necked Ducks, herons, snipe, and Western Grebes") floating on the surface of a nearby pond. James's brushstrokes fill all but the sparest patches of watercolor paper, and the white that shows through simulates sunlight filtering through the trees. Heading for home, Granddad asks Jess what she liked best about the day; picking up on his wry humor, she announces, "I liked it best when the dancing penguins came and shared my sandwich." (Sure enough, a pair of penguins waddle behind them.) This attractive volume rewards those who like its protagonists possess a degree of patience and an appreciation of nature. Ages 4-8. (May) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
This imaginative story succeeds at being heart warming and gently humorous at the same time. In addition, the splendid line-and-wash drawings capture the sense of wonder at the beauty and mystery of nature as experienced by a young girl and her granddad. When Granddad tells Jess his tall tales about his birdwatching adventures, pictures form in her mind. His claim that when he makes drawings of the birds, they make drawings of him, results in an image of Granddad and a bird busy at their artwork while perched on the limb of a tree. Granddad also claims that he got all the birds together to record the dawn chorus and Jess pictures a flock of birds being led by a feathery maestro as the microphone picks up their warbling. Then comes the day when Jess has a chance to go birdwatching with Granddad. She looks through his binoculars, but doesn't see anything interesting. Then they go into the birdwatching hut to peer through the hatch and the little girl is amazed by what she sees. The woods and the lake are full of birds and Granddad identifies Yellow Warblers, Ring-necked Ducks, herons, snipe and Western Grebes. Jess and Granddad fill their notebooks with drawings and later, as they head home, Jess spins a tall tale of her own. 2002, Candlewick Press,
— Carolyn Mott Ford
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-Jess's grandfather is fond of telling fantastic stories about his adventures while birdwatching. The girl takes his declaration that "Birds are amazing" with a grain of salt and decides to find out for herself if this is true. When she accompanies him into the field one day, she is clearly underwhelmed, at first unable to see anything on her own. They then make their way to a bird blind overlooking a pond, and Jess is bedazzled by the array of warblers, ducks, and waders that greet them. They make "lots of notes and loads of drawings." Not only does the child catch the birdwatching bug, but she also picks up Granddad's penchant for spinning tales. This engaging text laced with subtle humor strikes just the right chord. No one can fully grasp the thrill of observing nature in the wild without experiencing it firsthand, ideally with a knowledgeable and amiable mentor at one's side. The whimsical elements keep the story's tone light and joyous and the lively and expressive watercolor cartoons have the verve and charm of James Stevenson's best work. An enchanting tribute to small, simple pleasures.-Luann Toth, School Library Journal Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This gentle, intergenerational story successfully conveys in a simple and authentic voice a granddaughter's first birding experience. Grandfather claims: "When I go birdwatching, things happen," and " . . . when I make drawings of the birds, sometimes they make drawings of me, too," or " . . . sometimes the birds help me when I can't find their names in my bird book." What her grandfather tells her is hard to believe, so Jess decides to go along. At first she sees nothing, but finally, she is rewarded with a full panorama of winged creatures. When Grandfather asks her favorite part about her birdwatching venture, as a quick study, she can tell a story of her own: "I liked best when the dancing penguins came and shared my sandwich." The line-and-wash drawings are a perfect pairing with the text, creating a seamless flow of story to illustration. The warmth of the autumn sun creates amber tones of luscious fall foliage that fill the pages and convey the grandeur of nature, which dwarfs the humans and birds inhabiting each setting. The grandfather's love of birdwatching and the pleasure of sharing this passion with his granddaughter, coupled with the frustration of the novice birder who can't spot a bird, rings true to anyone facing a new challenge, especially a child. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763616762
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST US
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 12.00 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Simon James is the author-illustrator of many acclaimed books for children, including THE WILD WOODS, DAYS LIKE THIS, and LEON AND BOB, which was named a NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW Best Illustrated Book of the Year. Simon James says of his work, "I like to capture a large world and at the same time give the reader the sense of being drawn in to an intimate moment or place."

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2002

    A LITTLE GIRL AND HER GRANDFATHER

    With evocative ink and watercolor drawings, all full-page, author-illustrator Simon James relates a touching story of the very special relationship between a little girl and her grandfather. For sometime, Jess has been hearing stories from her grandfather about birdwatching. He says such intriguing things as 'Jess, when I make drawings of the birds, sometimes they make drawings of me, too.' He says that birds help him find their names in his bird book, and that he gathered all the birds to make a 'dawn chorus' for her. The little girl can resist no longer. She goes birdwatching with her grandfather, but doesn't see anything at all. Furthermore, nothing happens - that is, until they reach the birdwatching hut. Soon after that Jess has a 'story' for him. Sure to appeal to all youngsters who have the friendship of an older adult.

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