I've become a bit of a birder in the last year so Lois Ehlert's Feathers for Lunch was a treasure to find. I again judged a book by its cover and picked it up based on the beautiful illustration on the front. And that was only the tip of the beauty that is this book.
Ehlert works in collage, creating brightly colored spreads filled with action and beauty. The book follows the adventures of a cat who slips out the front door and attempts to eat the birds in the yard. But the cat is wearing a bell and the birds fly off before he reaches them leaving just feathers behind. The book is told in simple rhyming phrases which would be easy for any child to read by themselves. The first time I read it, I took so much time gawking at the gorgeous art that I didn't even hear the rhyme. On the second time through I noticed the poem-like quality to the book. Ehlert mixes just enough white space in that we are not overwhelmed by action and color and there is a sense of peace to the book, even with its hunting theme.
The birds are what caught my attention in the book. Using bright colored paper Ehlert brings a number of different birds to life. There are warblers, cardinals, blue jays, and more. And each are stylized beautifully. These paper representations are better than some guide books I've seen. Ehlert includes the birds chirps and alarm calls and has a section at the back which gives information on each bird. This is a perfect book for a young child who is interested in birding. They will marvel at the beautiful illustration, enjoy the fun rhymes, and learn a bit about birds in the process. This would be a great book to use before going on a birding field trip with little children. They will get more from this than any field guide. Most pages include the cat and one or two of the birds he is hunting. I can't say enough about those illustrations. Gorgeous. Stunning. They pop off the page. I'm a huge fan of collage work and Ehlert is a master. I'll be checking out more of her work. A gorgeous find. And one that I will be on the lookout to purchase.