An alphabetical album of birds flies in from the U.K.
From albatross to “zos-ter-o-pi-dae,” the images in this slightly oversized import consistently stun with their composition and use of color. A squadron of the aforementioned albatrosses glides serenely across the page, wings outstretched at a 45-degree angle to the page edges; in between the birds, slightly smaller jets leave perfectly horizontal contrails across a pearly gray sky. On the verso of one double-page spread, a Canada goose leads a brood of gray goslings in a semicircle against a snowy backdrop; across the gutter, a domestic white goose leads squawking yellow goslings in a mirroring pattern across a sandy barnyard. A lark perches on an old-fashioned radio microphone and sings serenely in the spotlight, framed by diagonal curtains of black. Colors are matte, depending for their effectiveness on contrast and the judicious use of Day-Glo pink—an artistic choice that works with the striking compositions to create some images that reach abstraction, as in a layered congregation of cockatoo crests. The slight couplets are significantly less distinguished, often struggling for both rhyme and scansion, but they are easy to overlook as readers’ eyes glide over the luscious pages. The image of a nightingale, framed in an open, circular window beneath a crescent moon, is alone worth the purchase price.
With pages that beg to be sliced out and framed, a positive feast for the eyes. (Picture book. 3-8)