For the Birds: The life of Roger Tory Peterson / Peggy Thomas.

For the Birds: The life of Roger Tory Peterson / Peggy Thomas.

INT     Grades3-6     Rating 4

As a biography, For the Birds: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson by Peggy Thomas connects easily with young readers, describing Peterson’s early fascination with nature and birds the way kids would experience them. Readers will be caught up in Peterson’s hikes in the woods and his passion for capturing them in authentic illustrations. They’ll be inspired by the ornithologist’s perseverance to save to buy his first camera at age 14, and to work at a monotonous job while perfecting his art that eventually received national recognition.

Peterson, once a teacher and camp counselor, eventually became known as the naturalist whose art and research came together in A Field Guide to the Birds during the Depression. Carefully detailed illustrations by Laura Jaques add visual value to the text. Children will see how a scientist grows his skill while absorbing plenty of avian facts. Thomas’ subtle humor and upbeat tone are lovely; her use of ornithological terms may intrigue readers, though it seems a bit overdone by book’s end. Peterson’s own sketches adorn the inside front and back covers along with a quaint “Topography of a Birder” diagram. Overall, this well-written biography accents science and art studies and can prompt children to pursue their passions.

Karen Schmidt, CLJ

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