Cate's birding book breaks one of the cardinal rules (sorry I couldn't resist) of informational books: Anthropomorphism. But in this case, she is right and the rule is wrong. That's the thing with trying to come up with tight criteria for selecting informational books. When we focus too tightly on one kind of presentation, we get myopic. This book is not intended to be a scientist's science presentation. It's about being an everyday person getting into birding, and the talking birds are appropriate. The purpose of the book guides the criteria.
I enjoyed Cate's sassy cartoon birds. It's not exactly the same, but the style and tone reminded me of Jared Lee's "Bummers" cartoons from Scholastic's 1974-1992 Dynamite Magazine
. The intent is not to make kids think animals have human thoughts and emotions, it's intended to add some jokes to the really basic information on birding.
The best aspect of this book is its depth in both content and graphic formats. It really is a comprehensive guide to amateur birding. The wheel diagram for shades of brown, the rainbow diagram for spectrum of colors of birds, the bubble diagram for taxonomy--it was a brilliant array of appropriate variety in graphic organizers. Several different kinds of comic strips are used throughout, and a large two-page 'fashion runway' was an ingenious way to show off the differences in sparrows. Cate attacks the 'boringness' of the content head-on, and challenges readers to just start looking and drawing.
It was a tough book to read in one sitting, and I imagine it being best read over some time--a week or two to look closely at each few pages. Cate promotes a field guide over her book for actually getting out observing and differentiating birds. It reminded me of our days in Gunnison, when we kept [b:A Field Guide to Western Birds|592023|A Field Guide to Western Birds A Completely New Guide to Field Marks of All Species Found in North America West of the 100th Meridian and North of Mexico|Roger Tory Peterson|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1347610258s/592023.jpg|1334525] next to the kitchen window that looked out onto our lilacs. We saw dozens of different kinds of birds there every spring and summer, and we'd put a date next to each bird when we saw it. I haven't been able to find that guide book since we moved down from the mountains six years ago...