2019-02-01 / BookBag

Books of a Feather

Centre County Reads 2019 Read-alikes
Maria Burchill | Schlow Centre Region Library

Centre County Reads is an exciting part of the new year at the libraries in the Centre Region. The librarians delve into books outside favorite genres and gain perspective on unfamiliar issues. (This is probably the reason we’re librarians, after all.) Personally, I rarely read books that qualify as nature writing, and I’m glad the committee selected Vulture: the Private Life of an Unloved Bird. It’s a welcome departure for me. Katie Fallon is a Penn State alumna and a capable, engaging author. The book is a fast read that introduces the reader to the noble turkey vulture, its connection to ancient gods and present-day man, as well as its significant role in our ecosystem. As news and magazine articles swirl around us about wildfires and collapsing glaciers, understanding a maligned creature’s role might just help us understand our own.

Centre County Reads partners will offer storytimes, nature walks and films to augment the themes found in Fallon’s book. They also developed a list of recommended books for the younger set. Among them is Vulture View, written by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Steve Jenkins. This is a colorful and poetic picture book that candidly presents the life of the misunderstood bird. It’s appropriate for children ages 5 to 8.

Katie Fallon and Bill Wilson worked together with illustrator Leigh Anne Carter to compose Look, See the Bird! and Look, See the Farm! Both stories are lovingly told and include realistic images of farm animals and birds common to farm life. They are the perfect books if you’re taking the little ones birdwatching. If you’re staying in, maybe reading books before bedtime, Lucy Cousins’ picture book Hooray for Birds! is a lot of fun. The bright illustrations and energetic verse are best when the book is read aloud.

Birding Is My Favorite Video Game: Cartoons about the Natural World from Bird and Moon by Rosemary Mosco is a quirky addition to this list and likely to appeal to older kids and teens. Mosco is the author of the webcomic Bird and Moon and here collects an array of facts and humor about the environment, from bird calls written mnemonically to the names of women naturalists everyone should know. I’m especially fond of page 11. 

Finally, Scott Weidensaul’s book Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding is also perfect for the teen birding enthusiast and the adult amateur ornithologist. In it, Weidensaul delves into the history of the popular pastime and provides a fascinating overview of the naturalists who first studied our avian friends.

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