Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Feathers: Not Just for Flying

Feathers: Not Just for Flying

Melissa Stewart
Illustrator:  Sarah S. Brannen 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Charlesbridge, 2014   ISBN: 978-1580894302

When we find a feather lying on the ground, the first image that comes to mind is that of a bird flying through the air. After all, feathers and flying go together like tea and cookies. What is interesting is that feathers are not just for flying. There are many kinds of feathers “because feathers have so many different jobs to do.”

   Though feathers look soft and airy, they can serve as a good insulating layer and on cold days they can keep a bird nice and warm. On hot days feathers belonging to birds who live in warm climates protect the bird’s delicate skin from the hot burning rays of the sun.

   Feathers can be brightly colored so that the bird they belong to can make a statement. A male peacock with his enormous and grand tail tries to attract females. Feathers can also be colored in such a way that a bird is able to blend in with its environment and thus hide from potential predators.

   The feather also makes it possible for aquatic birds to float and birds that dive underwater have special feathers that are waterproof. Other birds, like penguins, have feathers that allow them to glide across a hard surface, and the willow ptarmigan has feathery feet that are like snowshoes; they allow the bird to walk on the snow rather than sink into it.

   As they look through this beautifully illustrated book, young readers will find out that the feather is a very versatile thing, that it comes in many shapes and sizes, and does many different kinds of jobs. Throughout the book the stunning artwork is presented in such a way that the pages look as if they belong in a scrapbook or naturalist’s journal, and the effect is quite charming.