In fact, I did know; but that is mostly because my children love to read The Unfeathered Bird* by Katrina van Grouw. I, however, greatly enjoy being reminded of this fact as often as possible (it is the kind of thing you know, but then forget you know – like that John Ratzenberger was in Empire Strikes Back), especially when accompanied by such wonderful illustration.
*Courtesy of Princeton University Press.
The Extreme Life of the Sea by father-son team Stephen R Palumbi (marine biologist) and Anthony R Palumbi (science writer & novelist) was, to me, like a grown-up version of some of my favorite childhood books – books of interesting animal facts, like how high a mountain lion can jump or how fast a house fly can fly.
The Extreme Life of the Sea is less narrative and more an enthusiastic sharing of cool things in the sea, which are loosely tied together in thematic sections. It is not, however, just a collection of “gee whiz” facts. The compelling vignettes help to convey broader concepts of science and nature with excitement and enthusiasm.
Most of all, the Palumbis remind the reader that science and nature are not just important, they are fun. Continue reading
Skulls of Galapagos Finches by Katrina von Grouw – The Unfeathered Bird (2012 Princeton University Press – Used with Permission)
Katrina van Grouw‘s The Unfeathered Bird is a complicated book that combines elegant writing, copious information, and beautiful illustrations with bird anatomy. There may only be one person on earth prepared to handle all of that on her own. She wrote the book. And, it took her over 25 years.
We don’t have anyone that can cope with The Unfeathered Bird on their own. That’s ok. A multifaceted book should get a multifaceted review. So, we created a dream team of reviewers: artist Michele Banks focused on the artistry, Rebecca Heiss (PhD in avian physiology) focused on the avian physiology information, and Josh, me, focused. . .well it is not entirely clear what I focused on, like usual.
Michele Banks: The Art of The Unfeathered Bird
Rebecca Heiss: The Birds of The Unfeathered Bird
Josh Witten: The Layers of The Unfeathered Bird
The Unfeathered Bird by Katrina van Grouw
My copy of Katrina van Grouw‘s The Unfeathered Bird demanded to be placed on my coffee table. In the same way that everything about a cheetah says fast, everything about The Unfeathered Bird says coffee table book. There are 385 illustrations of 200 bird species. It is 287 pages long and weighs a couple of kilograms. When a book like that asks space on your coffee table, you ask “how much space?”. Fortunately, I have a sturdy coffee table.
I also have two small children (hence the sturdy coffee table). As a result, my first encounter with the content between the covers was not the orderly perusal with wine I had been planning for that night. Instead, it started with my 4-year-old, The Frogger, opening The Unfeathered Bird and asking, while staring at an immaculate illustration of a skinned bird foot, “Daddy, what is this book about?”
“It’s a book about birds. It shows you the insides of birds so we can learn how they work.” Continue reading