The Giant Golden Book of Birds
by Robert Porter Allen
designed and illustrated by Arthur Singer
Golden Press, 1962
I'm posting this morning on a book I probably should have highlighted a while ago considering it's prominently displayed in my banner. Those who read this blog regularly know that from the time my son was about 2 and a half, he's been obsessively preoccupied with all things feathered. This love has been unwavering. Never for a moment has it flickered. Other dalliances have come and gone, but for more three years, if you ask him what his favorite thing is, he will tell you. Birds.
I doubt many five years old have written fan letters to David Attenborough professing their love for his work. This past week, huddled in bed fighting colds and ear infections, the American Masters documentary on John James Audubon became his new best friend. He has a habit of circling every bird he sees with his index finger. He loves to draw them. He loves to memorize their names. He loves to make them out of tin foil and fly them around the house.
I was never really a bird person, but when your child embraces something so passionately and fully, you can't help but open up the window and let the love in. As such, I've searched the world over for bird books. My son has dozens of bird guides, chronicling species where his grandmother lives in Virginia, the coast of Maine, the Gulf, California... Being the vintage buff that I am, for me, there is no bird book better for children than The Giant Golden Book of Birds. It is, hands down, my son's favorite book.
Singer's first book Birds of the World was written for adults and published by Golden in 1961. It has many of the same illustrations --and more-- as it's three times the size. The Giant version was published a year later and is basically the same book whittled down in content and repackaged for children. To perfection I might add. There is something about its over-sized layout -- huge pages busting to the brim with colorful birds -- that makes me re-fall in love every time my son cracks it open. Though he adores both books, the one designed with kids in mind is definitely the winner.
If your child has any interest in nature or birds, ours makes a lovely addition to the coffee table. As a mother, this will be the book I look back on and remember.
And cry over, of course.
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