Friday, May 16, 2014

FEATHERS: A Book That Has Really Taken Flight

A Junior Library Guild Selection

Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen was released on February 25, 2014 and it has really taken off! Critics, teachers, librarians, readers of all ages, but especially love this book. Who knew feathers had so many uses?

Feathers received rave reviews, including a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and the first printing quickly sold out. The perfect summer reading for curious kids, the scrapbook-style format begs for a young readers to take this book outside and used as a guide for observing birds.

"A focused and thorough examination that highlights the striking beauty of these often-unnoticed natural objects." 
                              -Publishers Weekly, starred review

"The combination of thoughtful approach and careful crafting makes this an excellent resource for early nature study."
                             -Kirkus Reviews
"Beautiful and concise, this is an excellent resource for units on animal adaptation, and a treat for the youngest bird lovers."
                          -The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Part science journal, part read-along nonfiction, Feathers succeeds in what such science books for young readers should strive to do: help young minds spot the extraordinary in the seemingly mundane."

 More about Feathers: Not Just for Flying from author Melissa Stewart

While I was doing research for another book, I stumbled across a fascinating article in Birder's World (now BirdWatching magazine). It described some of the amazing ways birds use their feathers. I knew this would be a great topic for a children's book, so I photocopied the article adn pinned it to the idea board in my office. 

A few months later I dug into the research. As I do for all my books, I turned to three main sources for information: the library (for books, magazines, and newspapers), the Internet (for journal articles and locating experts in the field), and my own nature journals. Some examples in this book are based on my personal observations in the natural world. Others come from interviews with scientists as well as reports in scholarly books and scientific journals. 

For me, research is the easy part of a project. The hard part is figuring out the most interesting way to frame the material. I'm always asking myself, "Is there a way I can make this even more engaging?" For this book, I spent three years tinkering with the text. I wrote countless drafts and did four complete overhauls before I finally latched on to the idea of comparing feathers to common objects in our lives. That's when the writing came to life, and I knew the manuscript was ready for my editor. 

From the author's note in Feathers: Not Just for Flying

A note about collecting in nature: Gathering and keeping feathers from native wild birds is prohibited. In some cases you may collect feathers after obtaining a specific permit or license. Please be mindful of the laws that protect birds and their environment.

Visit author Melissa Stewart online.
Visit illustrator Sarah S. Brannen online.

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