birds on the wing; nesting things… two gorgeous new books

I’ve been looking at a lot of new-in-2015 picture books lately and these two are truly some of the most dramatically beautiful I’ve seen thus far.

beautiful birds cover image Beautiful Birds, text by Jean Roussen, illustrations by Emmanuelle Walker
published in 2015 by Flying Eye Books

My limited experience with Flying Eye Books has convinced me that they only publish stunning visual keepsakes, so it’s always exciting to see what’s new coming from them.

This is an alphabet of birds, from the albatross and bee-eater straight on through the yorkshire canary and zosteropidae (which is actually a bird family if you want to get all picky about it but what are you going to do with the letter z, anyway? Not a myriad choices, I imagine.)

In rhyming couplets, Roussen introduces us to more than 26 birds — some letters get more than one. You won’t learn a great deal about the birds, but you’ll meet a wide variety of them; certainly quite a few lovelies you don’t usually see in your neighborhood.

beautiful birds interior roussen and walker

Emmanuelle Walker’s magnificent illustrations are the huge draw here. She’s a UK illustrator with a superb sense of color and design. Here’s a sneak peek of some of what you’ll soak up in this oversized book:

beautiful birds interior2 rousen and walker

toucans and tanagers…

beautiful birds interior3 roussen and walker

birds of paradise and peacocks…

beautiful birds illustration detail emmanuelle walker

here’s a close-up of a brilliant, lime-green, bee-eater.

As you can see, it’s a strikingly colorful beauty to share with folks ages 2 to 100. Design students, take note, and if you’d like to visit Ms. Walker’s website, that’s here.

a nest is noisy cover imageA Nest is Noisy, written by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long
published in 2015 by Chronicle Books

This is the latest collaboration between Aston and Long in their beautiful series of books, and what a jaw-droppingly gorgeous work it is.

From the cover, to the endpapers, and every page between, Long’s watercolor work is like ambrosia. Jewel-like, iridescent feathers and the gleaming, mottled skin of a tree frog. Textures of all manner of nests, water and mud, cactus and honeycomb — are richly displayed. What a gift she has given us, to call us to look closely and marvel over the beauty of the natural world around us.

a nest is noisy interior2 aston and long

Aston has chosen a wonderful variety of nesting creatures. Birds, yes, but also reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, and even a few mammals are portrayed here. Did you know orangutans construct nests?

Her clear, measured descriptions provide lots of intriguing information about these nest-builders and the amazing variety of nests, yet are far from coldly scientific. These short passages are warm with admiration and always stop short of overwhelming us. 

a nest is noisy interior aston and long

Don’t miss this one. It’s the tip-top of what nonfiction can be, for ages 4 and up.