Published by Pavilion Children’s Books, 2019.
The Atlas of Amazing Birds is a beautiful compendium of the world’s birds. It’s organised continent by continent, and author/illustrator (and keen ornithologist) Matt Sewell introduces us to his personal selection of the most amazing birds from each part of the world.
There’s a lovely conversational tone to Matt’s witty and warm descriptions. For example, he describes the rosy starling males as “rocking gelled spiky hair and pastel V-necked sweaters.” I also liked his description of the “beach towel wings” of the Indian roller. At other times, his descriptions are poetic: “In the breeding season, [the black-necked grebe] has a dark-peaked head and magnificent crimson eye trailed by golden feathers, which looks like a red-hot meteor streaking through the night sky, trailed by a glittering galaxy of stars.”
Bursting with Matt’s stunning watercolour illustrations, the book is a joy to behold. He captures the birds’ exquisite beauty, their vibrancy and their majestic power.
There’s such a fabulous variety of birds in this book; lots are spectacular, some are ridiculous, and a few are, quite frankly, terrifying! Birds are bedecked with ornamental feathers, crests, crowns, neck ruffs, head tufts and magnificent tail-feathers. Less attractive are the droopy or inflated gular sacs and the dangly wattles!
There are birds with amazing names. My favourites are the splendid fairywren, the horned screamer and the spangled drongo. There are birds with unusual talents, for example, the superb lyrebird who can mimic cars, crying babies and chainsaws! Some birds, like the sociable weavers, are champion nest-builders who work together to create a complex network of one large nest with multiple apartments inside. Incredibly, the hoatzin species dates back 64 million years (roughly the time when all the big land-based dinosaurs disappeared).
The book also highlights issues which threaten birds’ survival, such as loss of habitat and hunting (for their plumage or to be kept as caged birds).
I have really enjoyed reading this book. There’s so much to discover and it has made me realise just how incredible the bird world is.
Suitable for children aged 6+
Thank you to Pavilion Children’s Books for sending me this book to review.