In the Belly of an Ox

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Raised in the moorlands of Yorkshire, Richard and Cherry Kearton developed a boyhood fascination with nature that fostered their great desire to photograph it.  Together the brothers invented ingenious camouflage "hides" (including one inside the belly of an ox) in order to get closer to their subjects of birds. After three years, the brothers published the first natural history book entirely illustrated with photographs; it changed the way people view birds and their nests, inspiring them to protect them ...

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Overview

Raised in the moorlands of Yorkshire, Richard and Cherry Kearton developed a boyhood fascination with nature that fostered their great desire to photograph it.  Together the brothers invented ingenious camouflage "hides" (including one inside the belly of an ox) in order to get closer to their subjects of birds. After three years, the brothers published the first natural history book entirely illustrated with photographs; it changed the way people view birds and their nests, inspiring them to protect them rather than plunder them.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Bond's watercolors enliven the rolling hills, and paneled illustrations effectively pace the chronology. The story could be tempted to take a humorous turn, focusing on each madcap disguise the brothers thought up, but instead it stays true to the Keartons' sensibilities. A thoughtful look at two important forerunners of nature photography."—Kirkus Reviews

"In the late 19th century, these nature-loving brothers spent their youth navigating the British countryside . . . Bond’s graceful watercolors depict the brothers as they piece together their disguises and gain recognition for their innovative approach to photography. The brothers’ dedication and ingenuity are especially resonant, and their elaborate costumes will amuse but also inspire. "—Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
In the late 19th century, these nature-loving brothers spent their youth navigating the British countryside (“They especially marveled at the architecture of living things”). When they were older, the boys devised a method to photograph wild birds in their nests by disguising themselves as a rock or a tree trunk—even hiding within a hollow manufactured “ox.” Bond’s graceful watercolors depict the brothers as they piece together their disguises and gain recognition for their innovative approach to photography. The brothers’ dedication and ingenuity are especially resonant, and their elaborate costumes will amuse but also inspire. Ages 5–8. (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Jeanne K. Pettenati J.D.
Richard and Cherry Kearton were Yorkshire farm boys born in the late 1800s. They grew up and moved to bustling London but missed the wonders of nature not afforded in a big city. The men were publishing clerks by day and nature lovers whenever they could escape to their native countryside. One day Cherry used his new camera to photograph a bird's nest. The perfect image gave the brothers a bright idea. They used their free time to visit "magical" places and photograph the eggs and nest of every bird they knew. But, oh, how carefully they accomplished this work. Not wanting to disturb what they found in the wild, they built "hideaways" to camouflage their presence. The brothers camouflaged themselves as rocks, tree trunks, and even a hollow ox made by a taxidermist friend in Piccadilly. These ruses enabled the brothers to photograph nests without scaring away mother birds. And so, the brothers created nature photography with British Birds' Nests published in 1895. With simple text and delightful watercolor illustrations the author creates her own glorious book telling the brothers' story in a lyrical way. An impressive array of the brothers' actual photographs is found at the back of the book. Readers will see photos of the brothers at work as well as some of the nests they photographed. Several paragraphs about what the brothers did later in life are also provided. Reviewer: Jeanne K. Pettenati, J.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 1–4—The cover illustration of a young man carrying an ox on his head should draw children to this picture-book biography of two late-19th century nature photographers from Yorkshire, England. Raised in the countryside, Richard and Cherry Kearton were brothers who produced the first photographic nature book. They worked in London but often escaped with a camera to take pictures of birds, and their nests and eggs. Highly adventurous, the men hid in animal skins and haystacks and climbed, crawled, and waded through bogs to get their shots. Bond's writing is often poetic and captures a sense of wonder: "They especially marveled at the architecture of living things: The structure of nests. The lattice of webs." Sepia ink and watercolor artwork features pale skies and soft-edged hills. A closing spread of photos gives credence to the highly unlikely images of the ox on Cherry Kearton's head and of the brothers standing on a ladder precariously placed on a thin branch in a tall tree. End matter includes quotes and notes on the naturalists' lives following the publication of their groundbreaking work. The book has pleasing prose, attractive illustrations, and a message on early environmentalism. Its popularity is limited only by the obscurity of its subjects.—Ellen Heath, Easton Area Public Library, Easton, PA
Kirkus Reviews
Two brothers, Richard and Cherry Kearton, were born on a farm in late-19th-century England. They spent their childhoods exploring the Yorkshire moors, "on that thin line where the wide land meets huge sky," delighting in nature's patterns and possibilities. They examined every nest, every web and every footprint they found. When they grew up, the boys took serious jobs but missed their moorland fun. One afternoon, while visiting the country, Cherry took a photograph of a nest. That single snapshot opened a whole new world for the Kearton brothers. They became determined nature photographers, devising elaborate disguises and "hides" to camouflage themselves into the surroundings. Using rocks, trees, even a fake ox constructed out of a real hide, they found innovative ways to photograph birds. Bond's watercolors enliven the rolling hills, and paneled illustrations effectively pace the chronology. The story could be tempted to take a humorous turn, focusing on each madcap disguise the brothers thought up, but instead it stays true to the Keartons' sensibilities. A thoughtful look at two important forerunners of nature photography. (sources, photographs, endnote) (Informational picture book. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547076751
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 11/16/2009
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD1000L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 11.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Rebecca Bond grew up in the tiny village of Peacham in northeastern Vermont. When she is not having fun painting and writing, Rebecca is busy fixing up her new (to her) old house in a neighborhood in Jamaica Plain, Boston.

Rebecca Bond grew up in the tiny village of Peacham in northeastern Vermont. When she is not having fun painting and writing, Rebecca is busy fixing up her new (to her) old house in a neighborhood in Jamaica Plain, Boston.

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