Birds of a Letter by Craig Macnaughton is a fun aviary alphabet. Colorful drawings and minimal text move through each letter of the alphabet, showcasing a different bird for each letter. The reader is invited into the book with the text, “Let’s see who’s up in the tree.” Colorful and detailed illustrations show a range of birds from Avocet and Bee Eater to Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Puffin, and Victoria Crowned Pigeon. Each letter follows a pattern including the name of the bird, some trait or fact about it, plus the bird’s song or sound it makes. For example, “Y is for Yellow-legged Gull. Kyow, yow, yow! Being annoying is this birds’ claim to fame.” The artwork depicts three goofy-eyed birds in a beach-like landscape all with beaks open. You can almost hear the noisy bird call. Each page or spread is colorful and provides a sense of the habitat, often showing two birds with male and female coloring, and offering clues to each bird’s common traits.
What I love: the fun names of the different birds along with the sounds they make; the alphabet page—all the letters of the alphabet “cut” from an image of the bird for that letter that includes the eyes!
What I wish the book included: more detail in each page or spread. I always read picture books five times in a row to get a sense of whether an adult—or young listeners—will grow tired too quickly. It passes this test but kids love to examine the illustrations and I wish there were more details about the habitat and the species for children to zero-in on.
Like all alphabet books, finding something appropriate for each letter is a challenge—especially for X and Z. Here X leans on the Latin/scientific name—xolmis dominicanus—but it includes the common name as the “trait” for the bird. Z is back to common names with Zebra Finch and sets up for sleep with the song or birdcall as a string of Zs (perfect in case the book is requested as a bedtime read). Because the book opened with an “invitation,” it seemed it should have ended with a conclusion rather than simply the page for Zebra Finch.
In all, this is a fun, colorful, and educational book that I highly recommend.
I have two blogs; one on writing and one for children's book reviews & activities. I’m currently reviewing secular books with Catholic characters, rated to aid parents in selecting titles. I'm the author of over 30 books for children and teens and over 1500 articles. I also enjoy cooking and nature.