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The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon (Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12) Hardcover – September 27, 2004

4.7 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-4–This readable account focuses on a short period in the famous naturalist's youth. Audubon, who was born and raised in France, was sent to America at age 18 to avoid service in Napoleon's army. Living in his father's farmhouse in Pennsylvania, he roamed the countryside and observed nature. His interest in birds and their migration habits led him to watch a family of pewee flycatchers (Eastern Phoebes) that nested in a limestone cave nearby. In order to determine whether the same creatures returned each year, he banded the young birds with silver thread before they flew south in autumn, providing a means of identification when they returned in spring. Davies relates how the self-taught painter and ornithologist combined his artistic talent and keen skills of observation to produce detailed, life-sized portraits of birds "alive and moving." Sweet's extensive research is evident in her carefully crafted, mixed-media artwork, which includes photos of found objects, re-created pages from a nature sketchbook, maps, and watercolor paintings of young Audubon in the rolling Pennsylvania countryside. Students writing reports can find further information in Peter Anderson's John James Audubon: Wildlife Artist (Sagebrush, 1996). The Boy Who Drew Birds is a wonderful and accessible introduction to a man who made a great impact on the science of ornithology.–Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 2-4. The story opens with 18-year-old French naturalist John James Audubon roaming Pennsylvania countryside in search of birds. In an effort to determine whether individual birds return to the same nests in the spring, he uses silver thread to band some fledgling peewee flycatchers. He observes them as they grow through the summer, leave for the winter, and return the following year. An appended historical note explains that Audubon was the first person in North America to band a bird and that Audubon became "the greatest painter of birds of all time," while a source note details which parts of the story are based on speculation, and an illustrator's note comments on research, inspiration, and technique. Sweet's mixed-media collage artwork includes sensitive pencil sketches and ink drawings washed with watercolors and gouache, as well as elements such as photos of bird nests and bones. A good companion to Jennifer Armstrong's picture-book biography Audubon (2003), which relates several incidents in the painter's later life, this handsome book makes a beguiling introduction to the painter. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 790L (What's this?)
  • Series: Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; New title edition (September 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618243437
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618243433
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.4 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Like a bird's song, the lyrical text by Jacqueline Davies is both simple and rich with undertones--the repetition of pattern, the careful selection of noun and verb, the staccato rhythm interspersed with longer musical lines. Paired with the exquisite collage art of Melissa Sweet, it is a perfect marriage. Children will love to pour over the tiny details in the illustrations. Teachers will revel in the biographical details of the text. All readers will come away with a feeling of enormous admiration for John James Audubon, whose passion gave the world so much knowledge and beauty.
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Format: Hardcover
I loved reading this beautiful book with my nieces and nephew. There's so much to look at in the illustrations, and the writing flows naturally like the countryside Audubon explored. Children will be inspired to conduct their own investigations in the outside world after reading this. Each time you read this book, you find new things to look at and words to enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover
The Boy Who Drew Birds is one of those rare picture books that appeals to all ages. Young collectors will marvel when reading that Audubon's "Every shelf, every tabletop, every spare inch of floor, was covered with nests and eggs and tree branches and pebbles and lichen and feathers and stuffed birds . . ." Young artists may be shocked to discover that each year, on his birthday, John James removed the drawings on his wall that he had completed in the past 12 months, and burned them in the fireplace. All will be inspired by Audubon's inquisitiveness, his exploration of bird habits, and his ability to follow his passions (not to mention Melissa Sweet's amazing art). A beautifully written, gorgeous book!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a homeschooling mother and therefore always on the look out for great educational material. This book ticks all the boxes. It's a history book and it also explains why birds migrate in winter. The images are beautiful, the story is engaging and not too long. My daughter is 5 years old and she loves this book. We often read it for a bedtime story, its just great.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We love this book - and the other biographies illustrated by Melissa Sweet. The story is wonderful and interesting, and the gorgeous illustrations get the most reluctant reader to want to look deeply into this book. Highly recommended for any kid who loves science, also any kid who loves the outdoors and/or painting. Lovely book for an elementary school book report.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A children's biography. I got this book to add to our school classroom library, so my students could learn more about famous scientists. I would not say it's the book that draws the most readers, but since we study birds and conservation, it's appropriate to use for some of our curriculum, and the students enjoy reading in this format more than in a textook. It's got good illlustrations, and the story line flows.
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Format: Hardcover
John James Audubon loved nature and the outdoors as a child, and was determined to study birds in the wild rather than from books even as early as 1804. Jacqueline Davies' lively story of his youth and pioneering attitude will reach grades 3-6 with an excellent survey of his pioneering observational techniques. Drawings by Melissa Sweet provide lovely accompaniment to the story of the naturalist's early years.
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Format: Hardcover
It’s tough to write an engaging biography in children’s picture book form. Davis nails it, and Sweet’s gorgeous drawings, paintings, and collages are a treat. They succeed by limiting the book to a particular part of Audubon’s life, and using details of his upbringing and his personality to make him come alive. Great book about observation, learning, and the natural world.
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