Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Giant Golden Book of Birds

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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Jil Casey said...

Really nice illustrations!

Unknown said...

this post acutely reminds me that our boys are nearly 6. sigh.

i can't even imagine how important this book is to your family.

i thought of you guys in haiti when i saw two different birds that i knew i would never see again. i wished desperately for my bird book. or his little birdy mind to tell me what i was seeing.

Lise said...

Oh, how I need this book! Thanks for sharing it. My daughter is a bird-lover, too, and by extension, we've become enamored with birds ourselves.

I love your son's bird drawings!

Carin Bramsen said...

Your son's drawings blow me away! This is a wonderful blog.

Cecily said...

You have an amazing little boy.

Burgin Streetman said...

6! Geez....

Thanks Lise, Carin and Cecily! I sure like him. :)

Queen of the Nook said...

I love the way you describe this book. I found it at my local library in the monthy book sale bin for 25 cents. My daughter adores it as well.

Tera said...

That is a BEAUTIFUL book!!! Must have!

daysease said...

What a SPECTACULAR book! Oh, it just makes my heart glad to see the illustrations and details. I can understand why it is special to you. Will have to keep an eye out for it. Thank you

Zoe said...

Beautiful! And made me think of an illustrator I love - Helen Ward. All her books are stunning, but her birds in The King of the Birds are really breathtaking.

fun learning 4 kids said...

very good illustration about the birds which helps to add the knowledge to my kids.This is a really very good book for children

Greta said...

We have this book too and it is one of my 5 year old son's favorites.
The illustrations really are amazing.
Love from,

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