This week's Brainstorm has gone to the birds. Yep, we've got nonfiction books about all kinds of birds today. Click on the titles to see my full reviews and any content notes.
Birding is My Favorite Video Game by Rosemary Mosco
A collection of comics about the natural world that combine real information and touches of humor.
This collection manages to be both educational and funny. The topics covered focus on nature, animals, biology, and earth sciences. And Mosco knows her stuff.
Bird Lovers, Humor Fans, Comic Readers, Adult Readers (though accessible to middle grade and young adult readers)
The Birds of Pandemonium by Michelle Raffin
What started as a rescue of a few unwanted or abandoned birds evolved over the years into a full-blown bird sanctuary with breeding programs for a few endangered species. Raffin relates how she accidentally meandered into the bird world, and how it grew and changed over the years, with stories of individual birds along the way. A very readable and interesting read about how a woman in the business world found herself managing a bird sanctuary.
Animal Rescue Story Fans, Bird Lovers, Memoir Fans, Lighthearted Read Fans, Nonfiction Fans, Adult Readers (though easily accessible for teens and tweens)
Birds of Photo Ark (Photo Ark) photographs by Joel Sartore, text by Noah Strycker
Sartore continues his quest to photograph every species on the planet and bring awareness to endangered species, starting with those in captivity. This volume focuses on birds. Filled with photographs of many, many birds and aviary information in short essays scattered throughout by Noah Strycker. Sartore’s photography is AMAZING. You are totally justified in picking this up just to look at the photos.
Photography Fans, Bird Lovers, Adult Readers (though photos accessible to all ages)
The Call of the Osprey (Scientists in the Field) by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, photos by William Muñoz
Patent and Muñoz take readers to Montana where scientists are studying ospreys, apex predators in the ecosystem there, to figure out the overall health of an area severely damaged by mining pollution in centuries past. Readers are introduced both to those focusing on the study of the birds of prey and how that is done, as well as those who focus on the rivers and dirt in the area and what measures are being taken to remove the pollutants. The combination provides a look at a wide array of people involved, from those who own ranches and provide access to osprey nests to university professors and students to nursing home residents.
Ecosystem & Pollution Recovery Studiers, Osprey Lovers, Birds of Prey Lovers, Nonfiction Fans, Middle Grade/Young Adult Readers
Condor Comeback (Scientists in the Field) by Sy Montgomery, photos by Tianne Strombeck
Sy Montgomery shadows scientists on the frontlines of helping Californian condors come back from the brink of extinction. She learns a lot of the hazards that the condors still face, and the active role scientists play in keeping the birds healthy as much as possible.
Lead poisoning and choking on microplastics are huge factors in condor health and so the book spends a lot of time on that. Condor knowledge has come a long way in the past 20 years, and it is interesting to find out what scientists have discovered by keeping such a close eye on the birds for such a long period of time. A very interesting look at efforts to save a species from the brink of extinction, and I like that there are super practical, easy ways mentioned for young people to help save the animals around them.
Ecosystem Studiers, Endangered Species Studiers, Condor Lovers, Nonfiction Fans, Middle Grade/Young Adult Readers
Crow Smarts: Inside the Brain of the World’s Brightest Bird (Scientists in the Field) by Pamela S. Turner, photos by Andy Comins, ill. by Guido de Filippo
The crows that live on Caledonia are smarter than the average bear. They can figure out complex problems, like how to reach a grub when their claws and beak can't touch it. This book looks at how they demonstrate their intelligence, how science's ideas about animals and tool use have changed over the years, and what kind of research the scientists on Caledonia are doing with these brainiacs.
Curious Readers, Nonfiction Fans, Crow Lovers, Middle Grade/Young Adult Readers
Ducks (National Geographic Kids Readers) by Jennifer Szymanski
An introduction to ducks, their common characteristics, and the many types of ducks. A super simple reader with fantastic photos of a wide variety of ducks from all over the world and a little info on migration in the back of the book.
Duck Lovers, Migration Studiers, Curious Readers, Beginning Readers, Nonfiction Fans, Picture Book Readers
Dyan deNapoli recounts her experience going to South Africa in 2000 to help rescue 40,000 penguins caught in an oil spill from the sinking of The Treasure. An eye-opening look at just how grueling animal rescue from oil spills can be from the perspective of a trained penguin keeper (deNapoli worked at a zoo in the States and was sent by the zoo to help). Reading this gives you a whole new perspective on penguins and their personalities. It’s a very engaging, but also thought-provoking read.
Animal Rescue/Conservation Story Fans, Memoir Fans, Penguin Lovers, Nonfiction Fans, Adult Readers (accessible to teens)
The Great Penguin Rescue: Saving the African Penguins by Sandra Markle
African penguins have been on the decline for several centuries. Sandra Markle explains how and why that happened, and what people are now doing to try and bring these penguins’ numbers back up. Markle’s very readable and engaging text is accompanied by lots and lots of wonderful penguin photos. Markle’s history of the decline in the African penguin population is enlightening. Even more fascinating, perhaps, were all the intervention methods they tried and sounded great in theory but didn’t work. What has been working is surprisingly simple. It’s a great real life example of the scientific method, and not giving up after failures.
Scientific Method Studiers, Animal Conservation Studiers, Perseverance Story Fans, Penguin Lovers, Photography Fans, Curious Readers, Nonfiction Fans, Middle Grade Readers
Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot (Scientists in the Field) by Sy Montgomery, photos by Nic Bishop
Kakapo are flightless parrots that live in New Zealand. With less than 100 kakapo known in existence, they are in grave danger of extinction. Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop take readers to visit these rare birds and the scientists and volunteers trying to ensure they make a population recovery. Through a 10 day trip, readers get to know much about the birds, some individual characters Sy and Nic meet, and the joys and heartaches of the scientists working with these birds. And Nic Bishop has shot some amazing photographs of kakapo in their beautiful New Zealand homeland.
Weird and Wonderful Animal Fans, Endangered Animal Studiers, Animal Conservation Studiers, Curious Reades, Photography Fans, Nonfiction Fans, Middle Grade/Young Adult Readers
Little Kids First Big Book of Birds by Catherine D. Hughes
An introduction to what makes a bird a bird for kids, and a look at various birds all over the world with chapters that focus on different methods of nest building, mobility, eating habits, etc. Very informative, outstanding photographs, and I like how there are birds from all over the world that are highlighted.
Bird Lovers, Curious Readers, Nonfiction Fans, Photography Fans, Lower Grade Readers
Moonbird: a Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip Hoose
Moonbird takes the reader on a journey from the southern tip of South America to the Arctic Circle and back again with a flock of rufa red knot birds on their incredible yearly migration route. All the while, the reader is particularly looking for news about sightings of a red knot that was banded B95 and nicknamed Moonbird. He has defied the odds by aging to 18-20 years of age, while the overall numbers of red knots have been dropping. As the reader travels the Western hemisphere, he gets to learn all about red knots, what they eat, how they've been studied, and why their numbers might have been dropping.
Migration Studiers, Animal Conservation Story Fans, Amazing Animal Feats Story Fans, Curious Readers, Nonfiction Fans, Bird Lovers, Young Adult Readers
A survey of some of the most common birds of the world, presented in a highly engaging illustrated format with little snippets of interesting info on each bird. The birds are arranged by habitat. This book is a feast for the eyes. The illustrations are incredible, and readers can choose how much or how little they want to learn about each bird. I can see kids growing with this book, at first just looking at the birds and as they get older absorbing more of the facts. I personally loved that the book highlighted birds from around the world that are common so the book doesn't feel nailed down to readers from one certain continent.
Bird Lovers, Curious Readers, Nonfiction Fans, Lower Grade Readers (though accessible younger and still interesting to older kids)
Owls: Our Most Enchanting Bird by Matt Sewell
An illustrated survey of owls of the world, accompanied by little quips about each owl. Sewell's illustrations are charming, though I'm not entirely sure how useful some of them would end up being if you had to differentiate between owls that closely resemble each other. Still a fun little book. The little things said about each owl usually include something informative and some comment by the illustrator about the owl (and I sometimes felt like I needed a British slang dictionary to understand these).
Owl Lovers, Coffee Table Book Fans, Cute Illustration Fans, Bird Lovers, Adult Readers (though accessible to YA & middle grades)
The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell
Tom Michell was on holiday at the coast in Uruguay when he came across a host of animals washed up from an oil spill incident. Most of the animals were already dead, but when one penguin moved, Michell decided to do what he could for it. He cleaned it up best he could and then tried to set it free at a clean section of nearby beach. However, the penguin refused to leave him and Michell wasn't sure his feathers were still waterproof after the deep scrubbing. Since his holiday was ending, there was no local zoo, and he was due back at the international school he worked for the next day, Michell decided the best thing to do was take the penguin back to school in Argentina with him. Originally, Michell planned to drop off the penguin, now dubbed Juan Salvador, at the zoo or coast in Argentina. But after further investigation, Michell didn't have the heart to abandon Juan Salvador at the zoo where the penguins looked miserable, and the Argentinian coast was quite a ways away from the school. In the meantime, Juan Salvador seemed to be taking to the British boarding school life like a fish to water. He loved the boys, he had no end of people willing to fetch him fish, and he was getting healthier by the day. Recorded in this book are little stories from Juan Salvador's interactions with the students, other people and Michell, the ways he changed lives, and also stories from Michell's life as an expat in Argentina during the late 1970s.
Expat Story Fans, Penguin Lovers, Argentina Setting Fans, Memoir Fans, Nonfiction Fans, Adult Readers
Penguins vs. Puffins (Funny Face-offs) by Julie Beer
The tuxedoed birds of the north and south's stats, quirks, and triumphs compared and contrasted in a battle readers get decide the winner of. Who are better, penguins or puffins? In my opinion everyone is a winner here. Readers get loads of fabulous photographs of cute and cuddly birds and get to learn cool facts about penguins and puffin along the way. A very engagingly put together read.
Penguin Lovers, Puffin Lovers, Animal Fact Sponges, Curious Readers, Reluctant Nonfiction Readers, Middle Grade Readers
The Secret Lives of Puffins photos by Mark Sisson, text by Dominic Couzens
Incredible photographs of puffins are accompanied by text describing their regular habits and life cycles. This is another one you are completely justified in picking this up just for the photos, but the facts on puffins are quite interesting.
Puffin Lovers, Photography Fans, Curious Readers, Nonfiction Fans, Adult Readers (accessible to teens)
Warbler Wave by April Pulley Sayre with Jeff Sayre
Photographs of colorful warblers is accompanied by poetic text describing their activities. In the back of the book is an extensive amount of further information about warblers.
Warbler Lovers, Little Bird Watchers, Photography Fans, Nonfiction Fans, Picture Book Readers