CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 5 . . . . October 26, 2007
Artist, naturalist and avid birder, Robert Bateman has long been fascinated with raptors and has had several opportunities to view them in the wild in many different parts of the world. This book provides a general overview of the two main types of raptors- hawks and owls. Bateman describes the special characteristics which help birds of prey to survive and to be such excellent hunters. Anecdotes about Bateman’s encounters with raptors, as well as information about each bird, comprise the majority of the text while small notepad-like fact sheets list the bird’s length, wingspan, weight, food, range, type of migration and natural habitat. Whenever two birds are featured on a double-page spread, one of them is given top billing, consisting of the notepad fact sheet and a large painting, and the other is depicted in a much smaller painting on the facing page. Additional topics include the specialized physical adaptations of raptors- beaks, feet and talons- as well as mating habits, nest-building, eggs, the young and fledglings. Interesting, little-known facts will appeal to readers, such as kestrels’ ability to see ultraviolet light so they can find voles (whose urine reflects ultraviolet), or how falcons and owls will reject food if it’s not fresh. The book ends with a brief account of the important role that birds of prey play in nature and the threats to raptors’ survival, such as the loss of habitat and humans’ use of pesticides.
The combination of Bateman’s writing style, a simple text font so as not to detract from the artwork, and realistic, detailed paintings is very successful. By mixing facts with personal anecdotes, explained in a manner which is easy for children to understand, Bateman engages readers. Throughout the book, his respect and appreciation for raptors are evident, not only in the text, but also –and, especially- in the paintings. His birds are so lifelike that one can almost feel the feathers.
An excellent introduction to birds of prey.
Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.