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The Sky Painter: Louis Fuertes, Bird Artist
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The Sky Painter: Louis Fuertes, Bird Artist

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  163 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Louis loves to watch birds. He takes care of injured birds and studies how they look and how they move. His father wants him to become an engineer, but Louis dreams of being a bird artist. To achieve this dream, he must practice, practice, practice. He learns from the art of John James Audubon. But as Louis grows up, he begins to draw and paint living, flying birds in thei ...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published April 28th 2015 by Two Lions
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4.25  · 
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 ·  163 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Why have I never heard of this man before? His bird paintings were enormously popular, and he was considered a worthy successor to Audubon. Thank goodness Margarita Engle has rescued Fuertes from obscurity with this poetic account of his life. I was surprised to learn that he was born and lived in Ithaca, New York, not too far from where I live, and that he taught at Cornell. He painted habitat murals at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. I'd love to see those. What I appre ...more
Mary Ann
Margarita Engle captivated me with her biography of Louis Fuertes, the artist who is known as the "father of modern bird art" because of the way he painted birds in flight in their natural environments. Fuertes loved watching birds as a young boy. As he began his career, he realized that revered artists such as James Audubon painted birds they had shot and killed, so that they could study their anatomy in detail.Fuertes decided that he wanted to let birds live, so he developed the skills to pain ...more
A gorgeous story told in verse about Louis Fuertes, considered the greatest bird artist who ever lived. I'm not usually a fan of ornithology or bird watching but Engle and Bereghici have created a melding of words and images to make readers like me sit up and take notice. Fuertes seemed like a kind, gentle soul who cared deeply about, not just birds, but conservation in general.
Lovely and exquisitely detailed watercolor and ink illustrations portray the lively nature of the birds that so fascinated the subject of this picture book biography. Relying on a series of poems gleaned from her research, Margarita Engle tells the story of Louis Fuertes who befriended birds as a child and then learned to paint them. The poems describe how Fuertes went against his parents' wishes that he become an engineer and his own struggles to capture the essence of the birds that intrigued ...more
Louis Fuertes loved animals when he was young, especially birds. He often brought them home to take care of them in his “makeshift” hospital under his porch. He began sketching them, and was amazed when he first saw Audubon’s folio of paintings. He drew birds wherever he traveled, in college, and was soon acclaimed as an accomplished bird artist. Early in his career, he stopped the usual way of painting birds, to kill and pose them. He wanted birds to live. He knew that he had to learn to paint ...more
I whistle.
Birds answer.
I follow.
Blue shadows.

- Excerpt from The Sky Painter

A beautiful picturebook biography of bird artist Louis Fuertes. His story is told in verse form and the pages are filled with vivid illustrations of birds. A great book for bird lovers! Made me think of my friend who sketches and paints birds and my co-worker who is simply in love with these creatures. Enough to fill my heart with joy!
Carrie Gelson
Dec 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Such an inspirational book full of poetry, art and the life story of Louis Fuertes.
Dec 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: art, science
This tells the story of Louis Fuertes from childhood through adulthood, talking about how his early interest in birds led him to be paint birds in their natural habitats. The story is told in a series of poems, and we see Fuertes practice drawing and painting and travel to different places.

The book frames him as the first or one of the first to paint birds without killing and posing them.

I liked the art style, but I was surprised that so little of his art was used. I appreciated the different bi
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautiful artwork! I had never heard of Louis Fuertes, so I was fascinated to learn he was the first to paint birds in flight.
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous illustrations! This is a great biography picture book.
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
While very insightful about Louis Fuertes, this book didn’t really hook my interest.
Marg Corjay
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beautiful illustrations of birds that will entrance everyone that loves nature.
Jo Oehrlein
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
The life of Louis Fuertes, who come after Audubon and painted birds in flight.
Amelia Stackwell
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biographies
The illustrations were AMAZING!!! If anything I would, without hesitation, just purchase the book so children could enjoy the pictures. With that aside, the story and information are also great. I had never heard about Louis Fuertes or what he did. He lived a very fascinating life that I think children would really enjoy hearing about. I think you could certainly make several lessons regarding where he went on his travels, what he did, and why. I would highly recommend this book to any student i ...more
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If I want to be a bird artist,
I can’t get discouraged.
I need to practice.
I have to draw, draw, draw.

Louis Agassiz Fuertes may not be as well-known as John James Audubon, but his paintings of birds are just as stunning and so life-like. Even more impressive is that, unlike Audubon, his subjects were alive (Audubon used dead birds posed), and his paintings reflected a vitality that had been missing in bird art until then. Because he was one of the first to paint birds alive in their natural habita
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Told in verse, this nonfiction picture book celebrates the life and work of Louis Fuertes. As a child, Louis loved watching birds and caring for them if they were injured. Even in his youth he started drawing and painting birds, despite the fact that his father wanted him to be an engineer. He kept drawing and painting in college, and learned to paint quickly and capture birds in action. At the time, the practice was to hunt the birds and then paint the dead bodies posed. Fuertes instead watched ...more
Tibby (she/her)
I think these are very loosely poems, but it flows so nicely. Not that poetry can't or usually doesn't, but it feels more like prose. I'm just not positive it isn't technically in verse? If that makes any sense. I suppose it doesn't matter. The book is very interesting and the format really lets you into Louis Fuertes' life.

The illustrations add little peeks into his life as he ages. The little boy becomes a young man. Children and a wife appear next to the bathtub hosting a loon while Louis ske
Laura (Book Scrounger)
This is a beautifully illustrated book about Louis Fuertes, an artist who made bird art his specialty. I had never heard of him before, but there is a nice little info page at the end of the book for adults and older kids, that outlines his biographical information.

This story is written from his point of view, describing how he was drawn to the field of bird-watching and bird-drawing, and the new developments and insights he brought to the field. It's not a long book, and there aren't too many
Oct 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
1. The Sky Painter has not received any awards.
2. The appropriate grade level for this book is first to third grade.
3. Louis loves birds. As a kid, he would help the injured birds recover. As he grows, he continuously draws pictures of birds from around the world. Unlike other bird artists, he does not kill birds and then pose them. Instead, Louis draws and paints flying birds and shares the knowledge with others.
4. I am not a big fan of birds but after reading this poetry book, I never realized
Apr 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Louis Fuertes is a remarkable man, and this book not only pays homage to his extraordinary life, but it teaches young people important lessons. He nurtures and cares for birds in ways that children can emulate in many aspects of their lives. The book shows he devoted his life to birds and wanted others to see their beauty. I've seen Fuertes' artwork in a variety of places, but I never considered him as an artist. This book reminded me that sometimes I go about life, not considering something ver ...more
Full review at:

Louis Fuertes is an inspirational man, and Engle’s biography of him is perfect. I think what I enjoyed most was how Fuertes was not only an artist, but an animal activist, family man, and educator. He is a role model for any kid that wants to grow up to be happy. Like Ricki shares below, this book shares an important lesson about how there are so many different special things out there to be observed. Nature is phenomenal.

I loved learning n
Dec 23, 2015 rated it liked it
The story of someone I'd never before heard of, Louis Fuertes, a man who painted birds in their natural settings, from life, rather than dead posed birds like John James Audubon's method, and who encouraged wildlife and land conservation. Fuertes went on expeditions all around the world, painting all species. Born to a Puerto Rican father and American mother, he taught at Cornell University, and also painted habitat murals at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Ornithologists cal ...more
Early Monday morning as Xena and I strolled down the neighborhood street, birdsong surrounding us like a symphony, I caught a flash of blue out of the corner of my eye. It's a rarity to see this particular shade of blue. It was all I could do not to gasp out loud.

Moving slowly is our preferred pace these days; Xena sniffing the new smells as she ambles along. Quietly I tried to get my camera ready hopeful for a picture of the allusive bluebird. Every time we got close enough, he flew farther ahe
Nancy Hensley
Oct 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Sky Painter is a must read for anyone who loves and understand the beauty of our winged friends. As this true artist so eloquently starts out as a young artist with much respect of wild life, he make a career as a bird artist and his ability to travel the world provides others with the opportunity to see these pages that are chalk full of birds and their titles. Best of all, he ages gracefully by inviting others to come into his world of art by using whimsical humor giving others to freedom ...more
Sep 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Picture book biography of Louis Fuertes, considered the "Father of Modern Bird Art." His work can be seen in the habitat exhibits at the Museum of Natural History in NYC. He began painting birds in the traditional hunting and killing them to pose for his paintings. He grew to become a painter of LIVE birds and promoted wildlife conservation. Poems by Margarita Engle and illustrations by Aliona Bereghici capture the essence of this talented artist. Historical note included in the back ma ...more
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Now known as the Father of Modern Bird Art, Louis Fuertes changed the way bird artists painted their subjects. Before Louis, bird artists had hunted and killed birds, then arranged their skins to show the illusion of movement. Louis wanted to paint the living birds and learned to paint very quickly, capturing their movements in his art, which helped to spur efforts at wildlife conservation. Margarita Engle uses the first person voice in her poetry to chronicle Fuertes life and thoughts.

Holly Mueller
I LOVE birds, so when beautiful books come out about them, I'm very happy! I also love art, so this is the perfect combination. Through Margarita Engle's masterful poetry and Aliona Vereghici's gorgeous illustrations, we learn about Louis Fuertes, who was a bird artist and conservationist. Unlike his predecessors, Fuertes learned to draw birds alive and in their natural habitat. Because of this skill, he is known as the Father of Modern Bird Art. I read a library copy, but I will purchase this o ...more
Maggie Mattmiller
May 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
*First, I have to share that I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway, but it is in no way impacting my review!

Great picture book that is a biography of an artist I had honestly never heard of! Excited to add this one to my classroom library, and share with students. The illustrations are beautiful, and it's a great example of a kid with a dream who just continues to pursue it. First he pursued it in the same way everyone else did it, and then, as he grew, he did it his own way. Good book!
Gayleen Rabakukk
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Margarita Engle uses a unique approach in this picture book biography of Louis Fuertes. Rather than following a chronological approach or spotlighting a particular incident, she uses poems to convey the essence of this artist and naturalist who painted many of the murals at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Beautiful painted illustrations by Aliona Bereghici make Engle's words soar.
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Another little-known but important artist brought to children in an accessible story with lovely language: "geese...pass like dark shadows across the full moon's bright face." "I plunge into a lake and look up from below..." Told in first person, helps the reader feel like Louis is talking to them.
Colorful watercolor and ink realistic illustrations include labels for various birds.
Historical note includes quote about Louis' contribution to ornithology.
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Margarita Engle is a Cuban-American poet, novelist, and journalist whose work has been published in many countries. She lives with her husband in northern California.