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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

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  610 ratings  ·  86 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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4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  610 ratings  ·  86 reviews

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Nancy Kotkin
Text: 3 stars
Illustrations: 4 stars

Picture book biography about John James Audubon. His bird drawings are discussed, but this book focuses more on his migration tracking experiment and his early life. It's a text-heavy picture book, yet only provides a slice of Audubon's life, not a comprehensive look at his achievements. Bibliography included.

While the old-fashioned clothing, mention of "Napoleon's war," and use of candles are all clues that the book is set in the past, I doubt that most pictur
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
Oct 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This one inspired me to pick up a paint brush - something I haven't done in years. Must. Own.
Sep 18, 2015 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.
Jun 15, 2010 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
May 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Kate Foran
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is more than I expected. Energetic snapshot of Audobon's inner life and early experiences in America--it also captures just how significant his scientific work was--in a way that kids can understand. Illustrations are fantastic.
This is a lovely little introduction to Audubon. I would happily read it to slightly older kids who are interested in natural science.
Jul 22, 2011 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
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
Skye Kilaen
May 06, 2016 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.
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.
Sep 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful illustrations and an excellent look into the beginning of Audubon's quest to study birds. My bird watchers loved this one!
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dad, ellie, jacob, mom
Pre-read for CC1...5/23/15

Read this lovely book again. I need to buy this one!...krb 3/9/18
Tiffany Kelly
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: life-stories
John James Audubon loved birds and wanted to learn everything he could about them. But, he didn't want to learn from books, so he went outside to draw and observe them. He was one of the first to tag birds, and it is still a technique being used today.

I love birds and have always loved Audubon's paintings so this book was perfect for me. I enjoyed learning about Audubon and his love for birds. I also loved Sweet's beautiful illustrations.

Other books to read that connect with The Boy Who Drew Bi
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, childrens
The combination of Jacqueline Davies' sympathetic writing of a young man forced out of his native country by the Napoleonic wars, and discovering his love of birds, with Melissa Sweet's pictures skillfully drawn, and matching Audubon's curiosity, makes reading this book a special pleasure. It helps that I am an amateur birdwatcher, and interested in Audubon's life. The fact that he burned his drawings which he thought inferior is fascinating, considering how accomplished he became as a mature ar ...more
Maria Berg
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
I loved this book. It was full of fun information that I didn't know about Audubon. The collage illustrations of watercolors and found objects looked like they could have been a birders research journal. The whole book is lovely.
This was so cool! I know about Audubon as an adult, but it was really great getting to learn about how he always loved birds and how he was the first to track a bird in America! Very interesting book! Read for Info Books for Youth for grad school.
Ann Williams
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I love watching birds and it was so great to learn about John James Audobon. Don't skip the last page.
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing story of John James who was not only a extremely talented artist but gifted scientist. We loved the beautiful artwork in this book.
Mar 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
3/16/18 Read with Julia
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
It's Melissa Sweet. Of course it's good. And Audubon was an innovator ahead of his time. I'd like to read more about him.
Rayjan Koehler
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting tidbit of history, and now I will have to look into the suggested books and more on my own for more information.
Carlos Garibello
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
AR 4.4
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a great book. Fun way to learn about an amazingly talented person
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A lovely picture book about Audubon.
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I decided to read this book because I am a fan of the illustration Melissa Sweet. I loved the story, and the pictures and the whole things! Great book!!!
Ruth Hansen
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A great way to introduce kids to John Audubon.
Katie Fitzgerald
John James Audubon (1785-1851) was an American naturalist best known for his book, The Birds of America.

The text of this book briefly describes Audubon's childhood, but then quickly makes the leap to his arrival in the United States at the age of 18. While Audubon works to learn English and find a way to earn a living, he also begins exploring his questions surrounding where small birds go in winter and whether they return to the same nest. The majority of the book focuses on the ban
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