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Birds of a Feather: Bowerbirds and Me

By: Susan L. Roth

Sibert Medalist Susan L. Roth is like a bowerbird, a small black bird found in Australia and New Guinea that builds elaborate structures from various materials they find near their habitats.

Though Susan creates books to attract readers and bowerbirds build bowers to attract a mate, both get their ideas from the world around them and the materials they find. Both love colors. No two of their respective creations are alike. And most importantly, both Susan and the bowerbirds aspire for their finished works to be greater than the sum of their parts.

Complete with engaging backmatter and dazzling artwork crammed full of so much to look at, this visually delightful picture book from award-winning author and artist Susan L. Roth is a fascinating comparison of art we create and art we find in nature.

Facts about bowerbirds. Artwork notes. Bibliography. Full-color mixed-media illustrations.

ISBN: 9780823442829

JLG Release: Oct 2019


Sensitive Areas: None
Topics: Susan L , Roth , Themes, motives, and inspirations , Artists , Collage art , Artwork techniques , Bowerbirds , Animal behavior and characteristics

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Awards & Honors

CPL Best Books - 2019

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

School Library Journal*, Publishers Weekly, Booklist*, Kirkus Reviews*, The Horn Book Magazine

School Library Journal

What do award-winning, children’s book author-illustrator Roth and bowerbirds have in common? As Roth explains in this charming informational picture book, both bowerbirds (native to Australia and New Guinea) and she (a resident of Queens, NY) scavenge colorful, bright, shiny objects from nature and the world around them. However, their purposes What do award-winning, children’s book author-illustrator Roth and bowerbirds have in common? As Roth explains in this charming informational picture book, both bowerbirds (native to Australia and New Guinea) and she (a resident of Queens, NY) scavenge colorful, bright, shiny objects from nature and the world around them. However, their purposes are different. With her fascinating finds, Roth fashions eye-popping collages to make books; male bowerbirds build elaborately decorated, leafy structures (not nests) to attract mates. On facing spreads throughout, Roth demonstrates how she and her avian counterparts locate and arrange their respective collections to create meticulous, eye-catching “unexpected compositions.” Children will be amused that both human and feathered artists use “tools” similarly: the bowerbird’s beak “operates like tweezers” and “his feet are like my hands.” Roth’s writing is simple, direct, and inspirational. Students will gain a clear idea of how much can be learned by watching birds utilize odd bits to optimal creative advantage. The book’s collages fly off the pages with color and energy, and the strands of Roth’s artfully disheveled hair even resemble feathers. Enhancing the title’s usefulness are the author’s notes in the backmatter about bowerbirds, and their and her own work methods. Recommended for public and school collections. This vibrant book will work well as a read-aloud in a group setting and as a springboard/introduction for creative-thinking and creative-art sessions.

Horn Book

Roth (Parrots over Puerto Rico, rev. 1/14) explores similarities between her own work as a collage artist and the colorful avian displays constructed by male bow-erbirds of Australia and New Guinea to attract mates. Although their motives are different, Roth finds plenty of similarities. “As with all artists, we both seek praise; and we bo Roth (Parrots over Puerto Rico, rev. 1/14) explores similarities between her own work as a collage artist and the colorful avian displays constructed by male bow-erbirds of Australia and New Guinea to attract mates. Although their motives are different, Roth finds plenty of similarities. “As with all artists, we both seek praise; and we both hope that our finished works are much greater than the sum of their parts.” Many of the spreads juxtapose typical bowerbird creations made of twigs and colorful bits of trash (e.g., bright blue bottle caps) with images of Roth choos-ing bits of paper and found objects as she creates her illustrations. There’s plenty of meta fun here. Roth shows herself wearing a black turtleneck as she hunches over her work table, moving pieces around to create the best composition. The bowerbirds, black with orange feet, bend down to the ground as they intently place and re-place objects, adjusting their compositions until they are finally satisfied. As the book progresses, we see that Roth is depicting herself making the very illustrations we’ve just seen in this book, culminating in a spread showing her signing books at a school event with the book’s collages displayed behind her: a picture within a picture within a picture. Back matter provides additional detail about both bowerbirds and Roth’s collage technique (plus a brief bibliography and a photograph of a bowerbird and its assembled creation). Nature lovers and bud-ding artists are sure to be inspired.

Book Details

ISBN

9780823442829

First Release

October 2019

Genre

Nonfic

Dewey Classification

709.2

Trim Size

10" x 10"

Page Count

40

Accelerated Reader

N/A

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 4.5; Points: 1;

Lexile

N/A

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Holiday House

Potentially Sensitive Areas

None

Topics

Susan L, Roth, Themes, motives, and inspirations, Artists, Collage art, Artwork techniques, Bowerbirds, Animal behavior and characteristics,

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