An array of talkative cartoon birds bring energy and humor to this small-format guide to bird-watching. With help from sidebars, charts, and some very opinionated birds, Cate explains how to identify various birds by color, shape, behavior, birdcall, and other characteristics. Meanwhile, bug-eyed birds banter with each other and boast about their traits in dialogue balloons (“Hee hee! You can’t eat me—we’re in a chart!” taunts a blue-gray gnatcatcher that’s being eyed by a predatory merlin). Despite their goofy behavior and appearances, Cate’s birds are realistic enough to give readers the tools to recognize them in the wild. Cate’s informal hobbyist tone and all-around enthusiasm is infectious, as she emphasizes that bird-watching is as much about being aware of one’s environment as it is about identifying specific birds. Ages 8–up. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
A chatty, appealing introduction to observing these easiest-to-see of all wild creatures...Small and accessible, this is jam-packed with accurate information likely to increase any potential birder’s enthusiasm and knowledge.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
[Cate's] desire to share this passion with a new generation of nature enthusiasts shines through in this delightful and thoroughly detailed introduction to the hobby (some might say addiction) of birdwatching.
—The Horn Book (starred review)
An array of talkative cartoon birds bring energy and humor to this small-format guide to bird-watching...Cate’s informal hobbyist tone and all-around enthusiasm is infectious, as she emphasizes that bird-watching is as much about being aware of one’s environment as it is about identifying specific birds.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
With its emphasis on looking at the birds near home–from suburbs to inner cities–this invitation to bird-watching is an engaging addition to any collection...Lots of fun–and informative.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
LOOK UP! BIRD-WATCHING IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD…a lively, informal guide for children ages 8 and older that is jammed with fun and colorful drawings. Annette LeBlanc Cate has arranged her information in a way that is immensely helpful to the amateur.
—The Wall Street Journal
Children's Literature - Peg Glisson
Cate has packed this small book with all sorts of information about birding, as well as lots of humor. She makes no presumptions about the reader's interest but is sure to draw them in with her chatty style and humorous sketches. She starts small, by encouraging readers to just look around where they livecity, suburb, or country. Then she gives basic tips about what to do and bring, using a minimalist approach. Readers are encouraged to sketch, look and focus. They should observe shape, size, plumage, behavior, sounds, habitat, and even migration. Birds banter in dialogue balloons, adding more information to the text. Cate's chatty style keeps readers going; they will not want to skip a single page for fear of missing some of the repartee. While the pages appear to be jam-packed with the pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations, the captivating illustrations are such fun that it is OK. It is the kind of book that a reader can read cover-to-cover or put down, even for weeks, and still be learning from it. Her enthusiasm is catchy, and youngsters will return to these pages again and again. Hopefully, they follow her advice to draw, draw, draw. An annotated bibliography, an index, and tips for drawing complete this excellent nonfiction book. Reviewer: Peg Glisson
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—With its emphasis on looking at the birds near home-from suburbs to inner cities-this invitation to bird-watching is an engaging addition to any collection. By grouping birds by colors, shapes, behaviors, feathers, calls, habitat, migration, and more, the spreads highlight the multitude of avian features to be observed. Cate emphasizes the importance of observation and includes sketching instructions as a way to hone those skills on the individual aspects of a bird along with its species' characteristics. Each page is filled with full-color illustrations. At first glance they may appear crowded and busy, but the detailed drawings are charming, lively, and fun. Humorous dialogue bubbles feature bird "thoughts" in accessible language. Comic human observations are also included: "Are those pesky birds pooping on my windowsill again?" Lots of fun-and informative.—Frances E. Millhouser, formerly at Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA
A chatty, appealing introduction to observing these easiest-to-see of all wild creatures. Amusing scenes of loquacious birds and occasional human observers fill these busy pages. The pen-and-ink–and-watercolor cartoons are reminiscent of Roz Chast, with speech bubbles carrying much of the information. Where it would be informative, birds are labeled. Their variety is astounding; the page on coloration alone shows 60 different species from across the country. Cate's enthusiasm is catching, but she starts simply. She talks about looking at birds in one's backyard and neighborhood, with no special tools except for a sketch book—not since drawing is easy but since the effort requires close attention to details. She addresses color, shape and activities before moving on to using field marks to distinguish similar-looking birds. A comical central spread shows a sparrow fashion show, with the different species sporting their distinctive decorations. She discusses plumage variations, sounds and the use of field guides. The fact that birds look different because they live in different places and behave in different ways leads to consideration of habitat, range and migration. Finally, an explanation of classification includes an introduction to scientific names. The bibliography has good suggestions for birders of any age. Small and accessible, this is jam-packed with accurate information likely to increase any potential birder's enthusiasm and knowledge. (index, drawing, tips) (Nonfiction. 8-15)