________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 3 . . . . October 2, 1998

cover National Audubon Society First Field Guide: Birds.

Scott Weidensaul.
New York, NY: Scholastic, (Distributed in Canada by Scholastic Canada) 1998.
160 pp, paper, $l4.99.
ISBN 0-590-05482-1.

Subject Headings:
Birds-Juvenile literature.
Birds-North America-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3 and up / Ages 8 and up.
Review by Jo-Anne Mary Benson.

**** /4


Whether you are watching birds in your own backyard, taking a vacation at the shore, or hiking in the mountains, this book will help you look at birds the way a naturalist does.
The National Audubon Society has a well-founded reputation for excellence in books, and this First Field Guide is no exception. The opening quarter of the book is designed to give children a basic understanding of the world of birds and how to lo ok at them. This overview examines such things as avian anatomy, flight, migration, and nesting. "Birders" will learn that there are several key characteristics or field marks that help in identification. This feature and further information on colour, habitat, and voice make identifying birds an easy and enjoyable task.

      The book highlights fifty of the most commonly found birds in North America and references over l25 additional species. Each two page spread features one main bird and covers two or three birds with similar characteristics. For instance, when looking up the Northern Mockingbird, birders will also find information on three look-alikes: the Loggerhead Shrike, the Brown Thrasher, and the Gray Catbird. This feature is particularly useful for beginning birders. The format includes a shape icon, the bird's common and scientific name, a range map, and information sidebar with the bird's description, size, voice, range and habitat. These features greatly help with quick and easy identification and provide excellent reference information.

      The National Audubon Society is recognized for its use of superb photography, and the visual rewards in this book are plentiful. The choice of photographs for the field guide is felt to be superior to other forms of illustration as the photos capture the birds in natural habitats and poses. This illustration approach greatly simplifies classification and makes browsing in the book a delight. The guide also shares many similarities to the adult counterpart, but the First Field Guide: Birds is suitably tailored for the younger audience. Much of the coverage is the same but presented in a more concise version, frequently using bullets, and a language that is easy to understand. One major advantage to the First Field Guide is that readers are not required to alternate continually between the photographs and the written information. All the information is included in an "at a glance" format. To complement the text, there is a useful glossary that broadens youngsters' birding vocabulary and an extensive resource section lists websites, organizations, and companies that offer books and audio/visual material.

      The First Field Guide: Birds is recommended for youngsters of all ages. The visual content is high, the language simple, and the format superb. An ideal investment for home or classroom use, the book is sure to pique the interest of any nature ent husiast or budding ornithologist.

Highly recommended.

Jo-Anne Mary Benson is a writer/reviewer for North American magazines, newspapers and journals.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364