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FOR THE BIRDS by Laura Jacques


The Life of Roger Tory Peterson

illustrated by Laura Jacques, by Peggy Thomas

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59078-764-9
Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Intrigued from childhood by the wildlife around him, Roger Tory Peterson grew up to publish, in 1934, the first pocket-sized bird guide, a book that drew people's attention to the natural world and grew into a series that eventually encompassed plants and animals all over the world.

From cover to cover, this picture-book biography is filled with birds, just as the world must have seemed to the young naturalist as a child. Using language and imagery relevant to her topic, Thomas (Farmer George Plants a Nation, 2008) provides a lively chronological narrative. Regrettably obscured by the cover in places, the endpapers include a field-guide entry for this birder, including his habitat, identifying markings, voice and range. Jacques’ hyper-realistic mixed-media paintings have sharp edges and blended shadows, giving the appearance of acrylics and collage digitally combined. Most fill a page, full bleed, opposite a page of text that has a bird, butterfly or airplane silhouette (Peterson wrote military handbooks during World War II) as well as spot art in black and white. One memorable page turn shows the boy about to touch a sleeping flicker and then, across a wordless spread, the startled flicker flying away, glowing yellow under its wings. An afterword describes “The Peterson Effect”—the increase in care for our environment.

An excellent addition to the “sense of wonder” shelf. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)