Counting Birds: The Idea That Helped Save Our Feathered Friends by Heidi E.Y. Stemple & Clover Robin (Illustrations)

I was fortunate to get to read this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Counting Birds: The Idea That Helped Save Our Feathered Friends tells the story of how the Christmas Bird Count came to be.

Frank Chapman loved birds. He worked at the American Museum of Natural History in the bird section. In 1899 he started a bimonthly magazine called Bird Lore that later became the Audubon magazine.

Around this time Americans were starting to become aware of the destruction of wilderness areas and a conservationist movement was building: people who wanted to preserve these spaces and the animals who lived in them. 

Unfortunately, not everyone cared. Each Christmas day a traditional bird hunt was held where hunters would go out and kill as many birds as they could find. They killed all kinds of birds. The team that killed the most birds was the winner.

Frank Chapman did not like this. Through his magazine he proposed that rather than hunting and killing birds, they engage in a Christmas bird census. At the first one in 1900, 27 birdwatchers in 25 different locations counted 18,500 birds from 89 different species. They hunted birds, but none of them were killed.

Every year since then more and more people have joined in on this Christmas census taking so that it is now a global event. Owlers start out at midnight calling down owls and as these people are returning to their beds, the rest of the birders emerge. 

All the data they collect goes to the National Audubon Society. "The Audubon Christmas Bird Count has become the largest running citizen science project and wildlife census in the world." In 2016, 73,153 birders identified 2,636 species and counted 56,139,812 birds. When the count is over there is still some competition over who has the highest count, but thankfully, no birds are killed. And all because Frank Chapman loved birds.

The back matter includes additional information on Frank Chapman, how to become active in bird counts in your area and other ways to become involved. In the notes from the author I discovered that Heidi E.Y. Stemple is daughter to Jane Yolen. Their family was part of the bird count and she is the girl in Yolen's Owl Moon.

This book is a delight to read. I was enchanted by the story itself and nearly swooned at the beauty of Clover Robin's illustrations. Her brightly coloured collages are full of details. Whether she is illustrating landscapes or birds on their own, she imparts a vintage ambience that is perfect for this nonfiction title. 

After reading this book I had to go and reread Owl Moon. I can't help but find deep layers meaning in it that I wouldn't have realized were there without this book.

#IMWAYR November 26, 2018

#IMWAYR time again, when readers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to in the past week. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.

I'm following the lead of Shaye at The Miller Memo, so if you clink on the title link for each book, it will take you to the GoodReads page for that book.

It's getting close to the Christmas season so I'm busy working on projects and going to craft fairs just for the fun of it. I've finished piecing the quilt I was working on and am trying to decide if I want to quilt it myself or send it off. It's all about time...

I have discovered and been watching Anne of Green Gables on Netflix. I read all the novels in my late teens and twenties. Did you know that the first book was published in 1908? I'm not really sure how I feel about this version as it seems darker than the books, but I'll probably watch another episode before abandoning it. Maybe I'll just end up going back and watching the CBC production and or reread the books!


5 stars

Willow is a good witch who uses only good magic. In this version of the classic tale, Hansel and Gretel are two despicable children who would try the patience of a saint. By the end I’m sure you will agree they get what they deserve!

5 stars

I adore that this book shows us how straightforward it is to stand against fear and hate. Kindness and acceptance are such simple things that make a profound difference in all parts of our world.

4 stars

Abbie Cameron's gorgeous illustrations highlight Nicola Davis rhyming text in this homage to all kinds of birds. The rhyme mostly worked for me and I appreciated the places where the poem morphed into concrete format.

4 stars

I fell head over heels for this book on the first page with these lines:
"The speckled horse made his way through the field, softly, trying not to step on any insects of worms.
After all, he wouldn't have wanted anyone to step on him."
This is a deeply philosophical book about finding our place in an interconnected world.
Clare Rojas art is gorgeous!

3 1/2 stars

I like the idea of this book more than how it works with my seventeen month granddaughter. She loved the front cover but couldn't make the connection to the imaginary building. Unfortunately our library copy is not a board book like the other Leslie Patricelli books we have come to love. We'll try this again when she is older.

5 stars

Three times I've gone through this book. Each time I find something I missed and end up appreciating it more. It's an homage to the power of libraries, but even more, its overflowing with the power of love.

4 stars

When the darkness comes to his land, Marwan and others have to leave. It's filled with sadness and loss as all he carries with him of his Mommy is a photograph. At the same time there is resilience and hope as he dreams of returning home and rebuilding when the darkness is gone.
This is an important book to pair up with The Day the War Came by Nicola Davies.


4 stars

If my mother was alive still, she would be a couple of years older than Margaret Hamilton. While Mom was busy raising a brood of children, Margaret was programming how to get to the moon. My mom could never have envisioned that kind of reality for herself but Margaret’s story is now here to inspire girls today. I’m so glad it is.


4 stars

This is the second Susin Nielsen book I've read this fall. I love, love, love her writing. I especially appreciate that her work is set here in my hometown so I can envision her characters in places I know. Petula De Wilde, Jacob and the rest of their art therapy group have all kinds of difficult issues to deal with. Petula is full of anxiety and guilt after her baby sister's death. Jacob has just moved to Vancouver from Toronto to escape from his own secret tragedy. They all end up helping each other; even Jacob, when his story finally comes out. This is more of a YA book than an elementary title since the romantic relationship between Petula and Jacob includes (very positive) sexual activity.


4 stars

I think I liked this even better than Honor Girl. It's sort of a continuation of her memoir, but this one is full of magic and mystery. A lot is going on at many different levels. Perhaps because there are fewer characters, I appreciated Maggie Thrash's stylistic art work in this one more fully.
When Maggie's cat goes missing in her house, she ends up meeting a strange kind of ghost boy. As the story unfolded, I wondered a lot about the relationship between the two events, and you will too. It probably won't be what you think.
I don't want to spoil the story for you, but these lines on pages 160 - 161 echo a profound truth: “There’s a part of you that dies when you grow up. A ghost you have to leave behind.”


I was listening to Transcription by Kate Atkinson as fast as I could, but ended up being called in to work and my audiobook expired with just 90 minutes left. It's going to take me months to get it again! I thought maybe the book would be faster but the reserve list for those is very long too. I did find a fast read ebook so I'm trying to finish up with that. It's probably a good thing since I can skim over all the really scary bits anyway! I'm about half way through Elephant Secret by Eric Walters and am now listening to The Parker Inheritance by by Varian Johnson.


I have a pile of fabulous books from the library and I have no idea how I will find time to get to all of them.


#MustReadIn2018 23/25

#MustReadNFIn2018 12/12

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 24/25

Goodreads Reading Challenge 399/333