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The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon
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The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  367 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
John James Audubon was a boy who loved the out-of-doors more than the in. He was a boy who believed in studying birds in nature, not just from books. And, in the fall of 1804, he was a boy determined to learn if the small birds nesting near his Pennsylvania home really would return the following spring.
This book reveals how the youthful Audubon pioneered a technique essen
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 27th 2004 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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The illustration of this book is a fitting tribute to an artist whose fascination with birds revolutionized the study of these amazing animals. This is not a full biography, but rather a snap shot of Audubon. Don't let the brevity of the work dissuade you because the themes the author has chosen to expound upon are powerful and highly applicable to children.

I loved Davies' emphasis on Audubon's relationship with his father and brief references to how the Napoleonic Wars shaped his life by forcin
May 17, 2011 Kelley rated it it was amazing
This one inspired me to pick up a paint brush - something I haven't done in years. Must. Own.
Jun 15, 2010 Tricia rated it really liked it
Recommended to Tricia by: creative mom podcast
Shelves: picture
I knew that Audobon painted amazing bird illustrations, but I did not know that he was innovative in early ornithological research. The illustration style is quite lush. Nice story about discovery and persistence.
Erik Mallinson
Jul 24, 2009 Erik Mallinson rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: kids who are interested in birds, nature, or science.
Shelves: kids, nature, illustration
The watercolor/gouache/collage illustrations were terrific. I also liked the dip pen writing style employed throughout the book. The story was interesting though I felt it could have been more exciting.
Jul 22, 2011 Laura rated it it was amazing
A very well done work of nonfiction. This story tells about the childhood of James Audubon, who became know for his beautiful bird paintings. As I read the book, I realized that I knew almost nothing about Audubon as a person and I appreciate the brief but interesting look into his childhood. Sent to live in the United States from France, John James continues to observe nature and draw what he sees. Jacqueline Davies does a wonderful job of summarizing what scientist knew, and did not know, abou ...more
Oct 07, 2015 Amber rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this and learned a lot. I hadn't known Audubon's story. It was interesting. I like it when the author talks about sources and such, and in this book both the author and illustrator did. It seemed the author was trying to be true to fact, which I always appreciate. The illustrator went to the place where the main story in the text took place and did research there, which was neat. I thought the illustrations were okay overall and really nice in some places, some of the collages.
Brenda Kahn
Found this on the "new" book shelf at the library but learned it was published 11 years ago! How did I miss it? I wasn't as much of a birder then, I guess. The biography is lovely and pitched perfectly for kids with absolutely gorgeous illustrations.
Sarah Shufelt
John James Audubon is known as the master of drawing and painting birds. Illustrator Melissa Sweet’s mixed media illustrations are somewhat successful in bringing Audubon’s story to life, but author Jacqueline Davies does Audubon a disservice. The text describes a story where a young John James is interested in whether the birds he observed returned to the same area after migrating elsewhere for the winter. The abrupt start and end to the book is confusing and the pacing throughout the story is ...more
May 23, 2015 Karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: jacob, ellie, mom, dad
Pre-read for CC1.
Mar 17, 2016 Shannon rated it really liked it
Amazon Book Description: Gr. 2-4.
The story opens with 18-year-old French naturalist John James Audubon roaming Pennsylvania countryside in search of birds. In an effort to determine whether individual birds return to the same nests in the spring, he uses silver thread to band some fledgling peewee flycatchers. He observes them as they grow through the summer, leave for the winter, and return the following year. An appended historical note explains that Audubon was the first person in North Amer
Chris Young
Jun 17, 2014 Chris Young rated it it was amazing
'I will bring my books to the cave,' John James decided. 'And my pencils and paper. I will even bring my flute. I will study my cave birds every day. I will draw them just as they are.' And because he was a boy who loved the out-of-doors more than the in, that is just what he did.[return][return]What a treasure for those of us who love the out-of-doors more than the in. Davies book reads like an engaging story rather than a biography or history lesson, which it is. Audubon was supposed to be in ...more
Melanie Soble
Oct 27, 2011 Melanie Soble rated it it was amazing
1. This book would fall under the category of a junior book, biography.
2. This book is a biography of John James Audubon, the great bird artist. Born in France, Audubon was sent to the United States when he was a young man. Remembering walks with his father, Audubon spent a lot of time outdoors where he began to take notice of birds. He spent time studying them and making drawings of these creatures. This book details his beginnings.
3. critique
a. The most outstanding aspect of this book is the
Lisa Vegan
Feb 07, 2012 Lisa Vegan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: kids interested in birds, natural history, science, picture book biographies
Recommended to Lisa by: Manybooks
This is an excellent picture book biography about Audubon, and it’s wonderfully illustrated too.

I learned so much about Audubon and also about the history (and theories) of bird migration. His story is a very interesting one, though the bulk of this story covers a relatively short period of time.

The pictures are so engaging. There is so much to so many of them, and they’re created with a variety of methods and in more than one style.

I have to say that as a person with a huge sentimental streak,
Skye Kilaen
May 11, 2016 Skye Kilaen rated it really liked it
It’s tough to write an engaging biography in children’s picture book form. Davis nails it, and Sweet’s gorgeous drawings, paintings, and collages are a treat. They succeed by limiting the book to a particular part of Audubon’s life, and using details of his upbringing and his personality to make him come alive. Great book about observation and learning, the natural world, and a pleasure to read.
Dec 22, 2015 Earl rated it liked it
A boy's fascination with birds and nature leads into a passion that will revolutionize the study of birds. I appreciated the author's and illustrator's notes at the end of the book at how they approached this picture book. This brief glimpse into John James Audubon will inspire readers to find out more about him.
Apr 28, 2016 Kerfe rated it it was amazing
Based on Audubon's early years in the United States in rural Pennsylvania, Davies' book traces the beginnings of the artist's serious nature studies. Audubon studied birds in their habitats, and was able to correct many myths about bird behavior. The story is appealing, and the artwork is lovely.

My wife and I have been on the hunt for good picture books that are also biographical. This one on Audubon was easily amongst the upper crust of these. The art was noteworthy, and the story was good.

What the book lacked was truly compelling text. The story was good, but I believe this is unlikely to become a childhood favorite unless the child loves naturalism, birds, or some other thematic element.

It does share science, history, and the life of a great person in a remarkable and interestin
Aug 03, 2012 Matthew rated it it was amazing
This biographical portrait of John James Audubon covers the years just after he came to America and his earliest experience with bird banding. It emphasizes his enthusiasm and his inventiveness and hints at his underlying motivation to achieve something that the rest of the scientific community did not believe for his father. My favorite part was finding out where most scientists of his day believed birds went during the winter months rather than flying to warmer places. Underwater? Morph into o ...more
Scott Volz
Apr 24, 2012 Scott Volz rated it really liked it
The Boy Who Drew Birds is a very good picture book biography of John James Audoban's years as a young man in Pennsylvania (a native of France, he was sent there by his father to escape the Napoleonic Wars).

The book includes impressive mixed-media illustrations that attempt to convey a sense of what Audubon’s journals and pictures could have possibly been like. As the book relates, Audubon burned all of his juvenalia work, keeping nothing he wasn't satisfied with.

Aside from relating history in
Katie W
This is an enjoyable read about John James Audubon, a scientist and artist who studied birds and who contributed to a greater understanding of their habits.
Sep 23, 2014 Sarah rated it it was amazing
I read this to the kids 5 years ago when we first studied birds. It sparked something in me and to this day I still love observing these beautiful creatures.
Stephanie H.
Dec 28, 2011 Stephanie H. rated it really liked it
My son really loves birds and we keep the usual North American field guides around for him to peruse. He makes his own drawings of birds that grace our school room. We've all heard about the Audubon Society but we did not know much about the man himself. This was a charming story with lovely illustrations about the boy John James Audubon and his fascination with birds, why he came to America from France, and how he may have come to become the first person in history to band a small bird to disco ...more
Sep 02, 2012 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
This biography relates a tiny slice of James Audabon's amazing life. It concentrates on his short time in Pennsylvania (he was from France) as a young man, and his fascination and dedication to learning more about birds. It focuses on his scientific inquiries about migration, which wasn't understood at the time. Audabon's illustrious career painting birds is only hinted at, and all the sketches he did during this time were lost.
Melissa Sweet's illustrations are inspired, a combination of loose,
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Feb 09, 2015 Trudi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, juvenile
Fascinating information about John James Audubon and how he came to study birds.
Feb 20, 2015 Jeimy rated it really liked it
I adored the illustrations, but the text itself left me wanting more.
Nov 13, 2014 Murray5thgrade2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: gymnast13
It was intersting and a pretty good book over all!
Feb 18, 2016 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Excellent introduction to Audubon for my son. I was inspired to check out a collection of his original watercolor a.
May 22, 2014 Jacob rated it it was ok
I didn't like this book because it was boring because this boy just looked at birds and drew them down.
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