Friday, December 18, 2009

Sing, Nightingale, Sing! by Francoise de Guibert and Chiaki Miyamoto

This "Book and CD for Discovering the Birds of the World" is hard to categorize. First published in France, the original title (Chante, rossignol, chante!) is a line from a well-known folk song: A la claire fontaine. It suits this rather folksy presentation. The illustrations are bright woodcuts (by Chiaki Miyamoto) that give only a general impression of the sizes, shapes and colours of a wide variety of birds. It is most definitely not a field guide. A short description of each bird usually includes some interesting fact as well as their nesting and diet habits. The CD that comes with the book has brief recordings of most (not all) of the birds pictured. These are interspersed with original piano compositions by Daniel Goyone, playing in duet with bird songs.

The birds are mostly European species, grouped by habitat and identified only by common names. North American children may notice that the robin (tiny, round-bodied) and the goldfinch (red-headed) look quite different from the birds they call by the same names. I doubt that will matter, however. This book is more about music and art and learning that there is impressive diversity among feathered creatures. Pre-school to Grade 5.

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