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The Birdwatchers Hardcover – May 1, 2002
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Things happen when Jess's granddad goes bird watching. Sometimes, when he makes drawings of the birds, they make drawings of him, too. And when he can't find their names in the bird book, his obliging feathered friends help him out. Well, at least this is the story Granddad tells Jess. Intrigued, she just has to find out for herself. The first thing Jess notices when they arrive in the woods is... nothing. Not a bird in sight, even when she uses Granddad's binoculars. But by day's end, Jess has seen plenty of birds--including a pair of dancing penguins who share her sandwich.
Simon James's (Dear Mr. Blueberry, Leon and Bob, etc.) dry comic timing is simply flawless in this warm, thoroughly appealing picture book. Expressive ink and watercolor illustrations capture the gentle balance between make-believe and real, most poignantly when we see a couple of penguins unobtrusively waddling after Jess and her granddad as they make their way home. (Ages 4 to 8) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
The pacing of James's (Leon and Bob) meditative tale takes its cue from the avocation he salutes. Granddad tells the narrator, "Jess, when I go birdwatching, things happen." The opening pen-and-ink and watercolor wash depicts a mild-mannered bespectacled fellow with a cap and binoculars. But the narrative quickly takes a turn: the elderly gent explains that, when he sketches the birds, they sometimes make drawings of him as well (the accompanying illustration shows man and feathered friend perched high on a tree limb, sketch pads and pencils in hand er, wing). They even help him locate their names in his bird book. These antics make for humorous, understated visuals, and the stories inspire Jess to tag along one day. At first, "Nothing happened." Peering out from a birdwatching hut, however, the duo spies various species ("Yellow Warblers, Ring-necked Ducks, herons, snipe, and Western Grebes") floating on the surface of a nearby pond. James's brushstrokes fill all but the sparest patches of watercolor paper, and the white that shows through simulates sunlight filtering through the trees. Heading for home, Granddad asks Jess what she liked best about the day; picking up on his wry humor, she announces, "I liked it best when the dancing penguins came and shared my sandwich." (Sure enough, a pair of penguins waddle behind them.) This attractive volume rewards those who like its protagonists possess a degree of patience and an appreciation of nature. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.