Another Bird Guide for Kids

Paul J. Baicich

Birding Community E-bulletins

Sometimes when it rains, it pours. This time, it’s a shower of bird books for youngsters.

The latest entry is the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS BIRD GUIDE of NORTH AMERICAby Jonathan Alderfer (National Geographic, 2013). This is an introduction to 100 fascinating birds ofNorth America, organized by region – e.g., eastern, western, southern – and by habitat – e.g., back-yard, city, farm, beach, swamp, river, desert.

Given the limited length of the book – 176 pages – the organization is well done. And the individual species profiles not only have the requisite categories of description, voice, food, habitat, and range (with maps), but also clever factoids on everything from diet, to history, to nesting, display, and preservation.

If the organization is well done, the presentation is less so. The pages are loud, busy, and ultra-bright, with background colors – e.g. yellow, orange, and red – that almost scream. How can the subtleties of some bird colors compete when the background is so bold?  Photos of Bushtit, California Towhee, and American Dipper almost get lost.

This is not the author’s fault, however. This design is the pattern for just about all the National Geographic Kids books, be they little volumes on “Weird but True,” “National Parks,” “That’s Gross,” “Big Cats,” or “Myths Busted.”

If you – and your favorite kids – can get beyond the design/colors, you may still get to appreciate other fine parts of the book, including sections on building a bird-feeder or bird-bath, how to draw a bird, and six things you can do to help birds.

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