The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon

Overview

John James Audubon was a boy who loved the out-of-doors more than the in. He was a boy who believed in studying birds in nature, not just from books. And, in the fall of 1804, he was a boy determined to learn if the small birds nesting near his Pennsylvania home really would return the following spring.
This book reveals how the youthful Audubon pioneered a technique essential to our understanding of birds. Capturing the early passion of America?s greatest painter of birds, this...

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Overview

John James Audubon was a boy who loved the out-of-doors more than the in. He was a boy who believed in studying birds in nature, not just from books. And, in the fall of 1804, he was a boy determined to learn if the small birds nesting near his Pennsylvania home really would return the following spring.
This book reveals how the youthful Audubon pioneered a technique essential to our understanding of birds. Capturing the early passion of America’s greatest painter of birds, this story will leave young readers listening intently for the call of birds large and small near their own homes.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davies, illus. by Melissa Sweet, tells of the naturalist's lifelong study of his feathered friends. Author and artist portray Audubon as a curious and dedicated young adult who meticulously studied birds, their sounds, characteristics and behavior. Sweet uses a combination of pencils, ink and watercolors overlaid on several different types and textures of paper, and often incorporates photographs of fossils, feathers and more. A handsome presentation of this influential man's life. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Audubon is famous for his paintings of the birds of America. Davies takes us back to his youth in France in the early 19th century, where on walks with his father his interest in birds began. At eighteen he came to America. As he walks through the late snows of April in Pennsylvania, he notes the return of the pewee flycatchers. He wonders whether these are the same birds that built the nest last year, where they spend the winter and if they will return next spring. Nowhere does he find the answers to these questions. He begins a study of the birds, including drawing them. He then devises a way to mark them before they fly south. He has banded them, the very way birds are banded now, so he can tell that they do return to the same nest each year. There's a delicacy to the visual content as Sweet's mixed media and collage pages create scenes that are filled with the things the curious naturalist might have collected and drawn. There are also sketchy landscapes, buildings, and images of the young Audubon providing a context for his story. The book ends with additional information about Audubon, notes on the sources used by the author and illustrator, and a bibliography. 2004, Houghton Mifflin Company, Ages 6 to 10.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Kirkus Reviews
This winsomely imagined account of an episode when Audubon was 18 years old joins the flocks of commemorative works. Sent to the US to learn business, the young man happened upon a mated pair of pewee flycatchers; these he made an object of exclusive study, sketching and painting of course, but also banding the fledglings with silver thread to discover whether they would return after their winter migration-the first such experiment done in North America. Davies's narration, though bolstered by an author's note and bibliography, blends fiction into fact, recreating dialogue and Audubon's own internal thoughts with no specific reference to written sources. This significant weakness is balanced by the tight, appealing focus on a lonely, bird-obsessed young man whose perfectionism led him to burn his artwork every year and who burned to demystify the migratory habits of small birds. Sweet's illustrations soar, incorporating mixed-media collage into her line-and-watercolor paintings in a gloriously eclectic melange that evokes both the time and Audubon's scientific enthusiasms. A solid offering that, were it more completely sourced, would be nothing short of tremendous. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-9)
From the Publisher
This winsomely imagined account of an episode when Audubon was 18 years old joins the flocks of commemorative works. Sweet's illustrations soar.
Kirkus Reviews, Starred

Davies related her story with immediacy, evoking Audobon's keen curiosity and the lure of the outdoors as she describes his gradual discovery of some important facts about bird migrations.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

This handsome book makes a beguiling introduction to the painter.
Booklist, ALA

Sweet's relaxed watercolor style and skillful incorporation of collage, plus a lively narration that illuminates Audobon's passion for observation and sets his pivotal insight into context, make this appealing vignette a fine introduction to his work.
Horn Book

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9784338235099
  • Publisher: Komine Shoten
  • Publication date: 10/28/2010
  • Language: Japanese
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Melissa Sweet is the illustrator of many fine children’s books. Reviewers have described her unique mixed-media illustrations as “exuberant,” “outstanding,” and “a creative delight.” Melissa lives on the beautiful coast of Maine. In addition to writing and painting, she enjoys gardening, hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. For more information about the author and her work, visit www.melissasweet.net.

Jacqueline Davies is the talented writer of several novels and picture books, including The Lemonade War series and The Boy Who Drew Birds. Ms. Davies lives in Needham, Massachusetts, with her family. Visit her website at www.jacquelinedavies.net .

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