Feathers aren’t just for flying. They can also protect a bird’s skin like sunscreen, attract attention like fancy jewelry, or even distract a predator like a bullfighter’s cape. Feathers: Not Just for Flying introduces young readers to sixteen birds, from the sleek emperor penguin to the fluffed-up blue jay and describes just how positively practical feathers can be.
[starred review] “Feathers are not only a means of avian locomotion—they also have many secondary purposes for birds. “Feathers can warm like a blanket... or cushion like a pillow,” writes Stewart. “Feathers can shade out sun like an umbrella... or protect skin like sunscreen.” Making skillful use of trompe l’oiel, Brannen’s delicate, refined watercolors give the project the feel of a birders’ scrapbook, as though the feathers, “photographs,” informational notes, and other ephemera that appear have been taped, stapled, and clipped to the pages (one note even has a telling coffee cup stain). A focused and thorough examination that highlights the striking beauty of these often-unnoticed natural objects.”
“Feathers are deceptively simple marvels of adaptation, providing not just locomotion for birds, but also protection, warmth, decoration, and comfort. This book celebrates the amazing versatility of these easily recognizable objects, which young readers might find right in their own backyards. Vividly rendered watercolor illustrations of feathers in life-sized scale complement the straightforward text that describes 16 species of birds and the unexpected functions of their feathers. Common birds, such as jays, cardinals, penguins, and swans, share pages with more exotic species, like the rosy-faced lovebird of Namibia and a type of sandgrouse found in the Gobi Desert. Stewart describes how chicks suck on the wet feathers of their parents to quench their thirst and how males of some species can play a type of high-pitched, squeaky love song by shaking their wings to attract female mates. 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.”
“Depicting birds from around the United States as well as South America, India, Africa, and Antarctica, Stewart illuminates the various functions of feathers. Presented in a scrapbook format with images and text that appear to be taped, stapled, or pinned to the pages, the book explains that feathers can provide sun protection, assist in carrying nest materials, or attract a mate with sound or color. All of these functions are subtly compared to everyday objects with which young readers will be familiar, such as backhoes and forklifts or umbrellas and sleds. Brannen's captivating, lifelike illustrations bring each bird's feathers to life. An author's note explains Stewart's main sources. With its simple text and captivating art, this title could be featured in a group storytime or in a unit on birds.”
—School Library Journal
“An album of images and a simple text reveal that birds’ feathers are far more versatile than one might expect. Comparing feathers to familiar objects, Stewart reveals that birds use them in surprising ways. Her two-level text is headlined with a comparison and includes a short paragraph of explanation. Laid out like a scrapbook, her words share a page or spread with accurate and appealing watercolor images of a bird (identified by species and location), the everyday object in question and the feather. . . . considerable research by both author and illustrator is evident. The combination of thoughtful approach and careful crafting makes this an excellent resource for early nature study.”