Watch the Birdie



Birds constantly surprise me. A lion’s sudden roar or a spraying skunk may rattle my bones and send me running, but I’d have to say on a day-to-day basis, birds are the creatures that always knock me out. Whether it’s the treat of catching a bright blue jay or cardinal dart by or just witnessing a huge flock suddenly cannonball into the sky and scatter – well, it just makes me smile and feel very much in the moment. Good bye boredom, doldrums, and ennui. Birds are the best.

Look Up! Bird-watching in your Own Backyard by Annette Cate.

For Beginners

So when I saw Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard, I was pretty excited. It’s a very informal introductory guide for kids interested (or just on the cusp of maybe being interested) in learning more about birds. This year, Look Up! was awarded a Sibert Honor Medal, an American Library Association book award that highlights the year’s best informational books for children.

Its author, Annette LeBlanc Cate (The Magic Rabbit), lets readers know that she’s no expert, just a total bird enthusiast. She tells readers that:

  • It’s one of the easiest hobbies ever: you can do it anywhere and you don’t even need binoculars.
  • If you have any artistic inclination, you’ll find that birds are awesome models for sketching.
  • They trigger all five senses in different ways and promote mindfulness.
  • Their various habitats and propensity for extreme world travel make them even more fascinating.
  • If you are really into birds, you can grow up to be a professor of ornithology. Living the dream!

So Funny

Besides offering a ton of practical information, this book is super funny. Annette LeBlanc Cate is the queen of imagining what birds must be thinking. She studies a bird’s posture, its feathers, the company it keeps, the things it’s doing—and she creates amusing statements, jokes, and dialogue for the birds, which are presented in speech bubbles above the birds’ heads. It’s an excellent balance of conversationally written informational text and comic book style entertainment.

My favorite part is a completely ridiculous two-page spread of sparrows walking the runway at a fashion show while the birdbrained audience (also sparrows) noisily calls out “Work it, work it!” and nosh on worm appetizers. So awesome.

More Bird Books

Further your bird studies with these other kids books:


Author Bio:

Karen Choy is the Youth Services Librarian in Half Moon Bay. Her favorite bird song is "And Your Bird Can Sing" by The Beatles

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