Weather Forecast


Feather your mind with this book.

"Birds and feathers go together ... " explains nonfiction author Melissa Stewart. But there's more to feathers than flying.

In "Feathers: Not Just for Flying," Stewart uses 16 simple metaphors to show the varied purposes of feathers. Feathers can warm like a blanket, cushion like a pillow, glide like a sled and dig holes like a backhoe.

With each of these metaphors, Stewart also includes a small paragraph about a specific bird and the unique characteristics of its feathers.

For example, after explaining that feathers can make high-pitched sounds like a whistle, she introduces readers to the club-winged manakin. When he shakes his feathers, they rub against each other and "a squeaky chirping sound trills through the air."

Meanwhile, illustrator Sarah S. Brannen adds to the high quality of the book by providing detailed illustrations of each bird and its unique feathers.

Artistically she presents these illustrations as if they were taped in a scrapbook or field journal. Always, she is careful to identify the bird and where it is found,

In many of the spreads, Brannen also finds a way to include a picture of a child or something that will attract a child's attention. So when she shows a rosy-faced lovebird who carries nesting materials under its rump feathers, she provides a picture of a small forklift.

Although "Feathers: Not Just for Flying" is consistently child-friendly, it's never condescending. In fact, near the close of the book, Stewart introduces readers to a classification system that scientists often use for feathers.

On the final page, Stewart adds a note about her research and writing process. Research is the "easy part of a project," she says. But for this book, she admits spending three years "tinkering with the text," writing countless drafts and doing four complete overhauls.

The result is a simple, yet beautiful book, perfect for preschool and early elementary readers.

"Feathers: Not Just for Flying." By Melissa Stewart. Illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen. Charlesbridge, 2014. 32 pp.