Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Look Up: Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate

Crowded to the end-papers with good advice for beginning birdwatchers, Look Up deftly balances facts and fun. Cate asks readers to rediscover places they may have thought too boring for wildlife. She advocates sketching as a way to become familiar with each bird's characteristic form as well as bright markings.

Information on how a bird's beak or foot are clues to its way of life lead into observing bird behavior. The double-page spread on sparrow “field mark fashions” will double up with laughter anyone who has finally learned to identify those little brown birds. Cate concludes with an introduction on how to use field guides and think about habitat.

Adults who enjoy nature can share Look Up with children as a prelude to outdoor adventures. Look Up is a 2014 Sibert Honor book for the most distinguished informational books published in the previous year. The format and watercolors in Finding Birds in the Chesapeake Marsh make it a good bridge from Look Up to pocket field guides like Peterson First Guide to Birds of North America. Jim Arnosky's beautifully illustrated Watching Water Birds is a picture book in size but a field guide in information quality.

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