Learn about birds through the lens of John James Audubon.
Part of the Little Naturalists series, this entry reimagines Audubon’s paintings as accessible cartoon-style drawings. Mimicking the dramatic poses and simple, natural settings that defined the iconic painter, the flat, stylized versions do retain some essence of Audubon’s art. These bold versions have rounded bodies, thickly outlined in brown and filled with a minimal palette of matte, earthy colors like straw and sky-blue. Rhyming text in a predictable pattern begins with “He painted…” and ends with a bird-related term such as “NESTS” and “LEGS” printed in an outsized typeset that’s complementary to the colors of the picture opposite. As an early introduction to the avian world, the likable rhymes and clean, stylish illustrations work. As an introduction to Audubon? That’s dicier. Besides the bird poses and a short blurb on the back cover, the painter feel less like an integral part of the text than an adult-centric name check. An equally attractive companion title about John Muir similarly suffers. Though it delves slightly deeper into his life and work, and Muir’s appearance in the art makes it resemble a proper biography, only adult readers with a deep familiarity with Muir’s writings will make any kind of deeper connection from the short rhymes.
Appropriate for nature-loving tots, but don’t expect them to learn too much about the naturalist. (Board book. 1-3)