I Found a Dead Bird: The Kids' Guide to the Cycle of Life & Death

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The death of a bird is the jumping-off point for this intelligent, wide-ranging look at the cycle of life. From life spans to how things die, from what happens after death to how people cope with the loss of a loved one, Jan Thornhill guides young readers through difficult territory with grace, sensitivity, and touches of humor. She tackles the subject head on, never shirking from reality, but with a life-affirming perspective that connects death to the world around us as part of the natural, never-ending cycle ...

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Overview

The death of a bird is the jumping-off point for this intelligent, wide-ranging look at the cycle of life. From life spans to how things die, from what happens after death to how people cope with the loss of a loved one, Jan Thornhill guides young readers through difficult territory with grace, sensitivity, and touches of humor. She tackles the subject head on, never shirking from reality, but with a life-affirming perspective that connects death to the world around us as part of the natural, never-ending cycle of life. The book’s lively design and color photographs reinforce Thornhill’s pragmatic, positive tone.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Thornhill's volume, liberally sprinkled with photographs, provides a wealth of accessible and intriguing information about life and death. The narrative opens with a child's perspective in mind ("I found a dead bird/ It made me sad... but I also had a lot of questions, like, Why did it have to die?... What would happen to it now that it was dead?"). Acknowledging at the start that talking and thinking about death can be scary, the author notes that "avoiding the topic of death can add to our fears." She begins with the fact that each living thing has a beginning and an end to its life, then explores such topics as life expectancies of familiar species (an elephant, dog, etc.); she also delivers a Ripley's-like twist by citing the "record" for the species' life expectancies. Readers learn about food chains, extinction, human funeral customs and beliefs in the afterlife. Set against electric-hued backgrounds, collage-style layouts feature crisp inset photos and realistic illustrations. The text, arranged into easily accessible boxes and sidebars, includes tidbits of kid-pleasing trivia and allows for dipping or a straight read-through. Not all of the material is easy to digest: readers may find photos of a decomposing pig and of a maggot magnified 70 times revolting, and Thornhill encourages them to "go ahead and say it: yuck!" But most youngsters will come away with a positive reaction to this visually stimulating and informative volume. Ages 9-13. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-This straightforward, "no holds barred" approach to the subject will captivate children. Chock-full of color photographs, the well-designed book contains boxes with tidbits of information on a wide variety of topics, such as death of a species, human destruction, plant decomposition, trapped in time, and learning from death. The spread on animal decomposition has the following caveat: "WARNING: Icky, Oozy, Stinky Stuff"-just the type of thing that kids will love. Subjects such as funeral customs and the afterlife are also briefly addressed. Mummies, skeletons, microscopic bacteria, and the six stages of decomposition of a pig illustrate this eye-catching book. One discrepancy was noted: in the section entitled "When People Die," the author states "there's something that makes us different than other living things-we react to death-.We cry over our dead-." Then, in the next section, entitled "Grieving," under the heading "Do Elephants Weep?" the author writes, "there is much evidence" to think that some animals react to death and "wail" over their dead. So, maybe humans aren't so different from the other animals. An extensive index makes the variety of topics easy to locate.-Maryann H. Owen, Racine Public Library, WI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In this naturalist's view of death, Thornhill opens with discussions of life and lifespans, closes with an introduction to cloning and in between, surveys the natural and unnatural circumstances that lead to dying, the stages of decomposition, the work of scavengers and human grieving and funeral customs. She touches on many other topics too, from religious beliefs to species extinction, presenting it all with a mix of color photos, some in telling sequences, such as a row of human feet that goes from an infant's to a skeleton's, or six stages in a piglet's decomposition. She intersperses these with captions or paragraphs of explanation. Intended to answer questions about death, this is too long to share with children in a single sitting, and also contains some inaccurate information (no, centipedes do not eat vegetable matter, nor are humans the only creatures that "react to death"), but it will leave younger readers, freshly bereaved or not, with a greater awareness of the cycle of life. (index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781897066706
  • Publisher: Owlkids Books
  • Publication date: 7/28/2006
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 64
  • Age range: 9 - 13 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.34 (w) x 10.58 (h) x 0.43 (d)

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