Birds of a Letter: ABC Together! (Learning THINGS) Paperback – May 25, 2020
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Birds of a Letter by Craig Macnaughton is a fun aviary alphabet. Colorful drawings and minimal text move through each letter of the alphabet, showcasing a different bird for each letter. The reader is invited into the book with the text, “Let’s see who’s up in the tree.” Colorful and detailed illustrations show a range of bird from Avocet and Bee Eater to Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Puffin, and Victoria Crowned Pigeon. Each letter follows a pattern including the name of the bird, some trait about it, plus the bird’s song or sound it makes. For example, “Y is for Yellow-legged Gull. Kyow, yow, yow! Being annoying is this birds’ claim to fame.” The artwork depicts three goofy-eyed birds all with beaks open in a beach-like landscape. You can almost hear the noisy bird call. Each page or spread is colorful and provides a sense of the habitat, often showing two birds with male and female coloring, and offering clues to each bird’s common traits.
What I love: the fun names of the different birds along with the sounds they make; the alphabet page—all the letters of the alphabet “cut” from an image of the bird for that letter that includes the eyes!
What I wish the book included: more detail in each page or spread. I always read picture books five times in a row to get a sense of whether an adult—or young listeners—will grow tired too quickly. It passes this test but kids love to examine the illustrations and I wish there were more details about the habitat and the species for children to zero-in on.
Like all alphabet books, finding something appropriate for each letter is a challenge—especially for X and Z. Here X leans on the Latin/scientific name—xolmis dominicanus—but it includes the common name as the “trait” for the bird. Z is back to common names with Zebra Finch and sets up for sleep with the song or birdcall as a string of Zs (perfect in case the book is requested as a bedtime read). Because the book opened with an “invitation,” it seemed it should have ended with a conclusion rather than simply the page for Zebra Finch.
In all, this is a fun, colorful, and educational book that I highly recommend.
Just as bright and wonderful as Mr. Macnaughton’s first book, Birds of a Letter introduces a new rhyming pattern that makes it even better and more investing than the last! This does double duty of using rhyme to help with more difficult sounds, making it even more full of learning potential than the average alphabet book. Toddlers and bird-loving children of all ages will be eager to add this book to their library!