Birds of a Feather: Bowerbirds and Me

illus. by Susan L. Roth. 40p. Holiday House/Neal Porter Bks. May 2019. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823442829.
RedReviewStarGr 2–4—What do award-winning, children's book author-illustrator Roth and bowerbirds have in common? As Roth explains in this charming informational picture book, both bowerbirds (native to Australia and New Guinea) and she (a resident of Queens, NY) scavenge colorful, bright, shiny objects from nature and the world around them. However, their purposes are different. With her fascinating finds, Roth fashions eye-popping collages to make books; male bowerbirds build elaborately decorated, leafy structures (not nests) to attract mates. On facing spreads throughout, Roth demonstrates how she and her avian counterparts locate and arrange their respective collections to create meticulous, eye-catching "unexpected compositions." Children will be amused that both human and feathered artists use "tools" similarly: the bowerbird's beak "operates like tweezers" and "his feet are like my hands." Roth's writing is simple, direct, and inspirational. Students will gain a clear idea of how much can be learned by watching birds utilize odd bits to optimal creative advantage. The book's collages fly off the pages with color and energy, and the strands of Roth's artfully disheveled hair even resemble feathers. Enhancing the title's usefulness are the author's notes in the back matter about bowerbirds, and their and her own work methods.
VERDICT Recommended for public and school collections. This vibrant book will work well as a read-aloud in a group setting and as a springboard/introduction for creative-thinking and creative-art sessions.

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