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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

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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  242 ratings  ·  45 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
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Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 27th 2004 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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Kelley
This one inspired me to pick up a paint brush - something I haven't done in years. Must. Own.
Tricia
Jun 15, 2010 Tricia rated it 4 of 5 stars
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 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: kids who are interested in birds, nature, or science.
Shelves: kids, illustration, nature
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.
Laura
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
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
Chris Young
'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
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
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Lisa Vegan
Feb 07, 2012 Lisa Vegan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: kids interested in birds, natural history, science, picture book biographies
Recommended to Lisa by: Gundula
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,
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Karen Dransfield
A great picture book about John James Audubon. It tells about how he liked to watch the birds and how he wanted to know where they went and if they came back to the same place after winter. He observed and drew the birds over and over until his paintings were very life like. A great story that could be used as a unit starter for either art (famous artist/birds) or science (birds/nesting/migrating).
Magila
3.5

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
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Matthew
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
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
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Sarah
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.
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
Cheryl
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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Allison
I support independent bookstores. You can use this link to find one near you: http://www.indiebound.org
Trudi
Fascinating information about John James Audubon and how he came to study birds.
Jeimy
I adored the illustrations, but the text itself left me wanting more.
Murray5thgrade2015
It was intersting and a pretty good book over all!
~Gymnast13
Jacob
I didn't like this book because it was boring because this boy just looked at birds and drew them down.
Bree
Notes:
has some french words in it
gorgeous illustrations and well-written
Megan D. Neal
My little bird-mad girls loved this story of John James Audubon, which gives a brief background, but focuses on the event which led him to be the first to definitively determine that small birds migrate during the winter and return in the spring, nesting in the same spot.

Such a beautiful book! Melissa Sweet's pictures are a treat and harmonize beautifully with Jaqueline Davies' wonderful story.

Shellys♥ Journal
Biography of the early life of John Audubon in the US, it tells the story of how he first marked birds to see if they returned home after migration. Very nice illustrations, wish an actual Audubon drawing would have been included, but really a great story for helping kids to relate to historic figures.
Connie
I was attracted to this book because I enjoy birds and birdwatching. I expected a so-so biographical cataloging of Audubon's life. Instead I got a glimpse into the early studies bird migration. The author and illustrator did a great job of capturing Audubon's sense of wonder and curiosity.
David Bales
Heartwarming and historical, this children's book details the youthful John James Audobon's early years in America where he discovered that birds return in spring to their old nests. Wonderful artwork. One of the world's greatest natural history figures.
Kristen
The pictures in this book are beautiful. The biography of Audubon is really interesting to me. But I wasn't all that engaged by the text of the book. If you need a biography for an early elementary student, this would by good.
Teri
GREAT find! We love engaging stories about real people. I especially loved reading about Audubon's simple, logical, scientific design to find out if birds come back to the same nest each spring after being gone all winter.
Shelli
A picture book biography that older children will enjoy when looking for information to write their own biography reports. Lots of information with out getting dull about this well known bird enthusiast.
Pam
I was not aware of the early life of John James Audubon and this beautiful and delightful book by Jacqueline Davies and Melissa Sweet has encouraged me to read more about this interesting man.
Nicole
An interesting read on John James Audubon and although it seems a bit lengthy the funky pictures and chances for predicting will keep the interest up for a young reader.
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