by Sneed B. Collard III, illustrated by Robin Brickman. Charlesbridge publishing, 2008. (review copy) This is a well written and gorgeously designed informational text about all sorts of wings. From Galah parrots of Australia and Gambian Epauletted Fruit Bats to Madagascan Sunset Moths the variety and beauty of all sorts of winged creatures are described and illustrated.
Brickman has painted and sculpted paper to show the vibrant colors and stimulating textures of feathers, scales and foliage. The pictures pop right off the page. The 3D effects are accented by shadows showing behind layers of wings, scales, feathers, claws, beaks, flowers, leaves and branches. The softness of bat wings is contrasted against the fluff of downy feathers and the shiny covering over beetle's delicate wings.
Each page has one or two clearly written explanatory paragraphs focusing on one feature of wings. The first section explores the variety of types of wings on different species ranging from size, shape, decoration and covering (feathers, scales or skin). The second half of the book explores the usefulness of wings for travel, hunting food, attracting mates and fleeing predators. With spare, simple explanations and interesting detail each page brings readers from observable phenomena to a deeper understanding of the physics, biology and geographical factors that influence the structure and adaptability of wing usage. As as a sometime birder I've learned several new things about the birds I love and even recognized a milkweed beetle I saw in the fields last fall that I had wondered about.
For elementary grade children this book is a fitting addition to classroom and home libraries. Children will be drawn into wondering about how wings are adapted and employed by a great variety of creatures in the world around them. Those who are attracted to the beautiful illustrations will gain knowledge of biology and those who love to collect factual information will also delight in the beautiful vibrant designs and cleverly textured illustrations.
Anastasia Suen is featuring Nonfiction Books on Mondays now and this review will be part of her roundup. Be sure to check her blog Picture Book of the Day on Monday afternoons!