The Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Birds is a compact, attention-grabbing book from National Geographic Kids. The guide includes photos and info on 175 birds common, or mostly common, to North America.
Trying to bring my mindset to that of a child isn’t that difficult since I spend nearly all my free time around my two young boys. And while they are too young to fully appreciate this book, my 2 1/2 year old had a hard time giving up the book once he discovered it.
The bright colors and graphics, plus the arrangement of the pictures, drawings, and special notes all make for an inviting book. This is of course of the utmost importance, since paging through and exploring this book is a prerequisite to using it to enhance real-world exploration.
What I really like, besides the initial attractiveness is the straightforwardness of the information. While it is scientific and meant to teach, the wording is fairly easy to read and there are special callouts to engage the reader: “Try This!, Look for This, Laugh Out Loud!, and Be a Bird Nerd!”
Unfortunately, that last one “Be a Bird Nerd!” is not one of my favorites. I get the rhyming and quirkiness of that phrase, but I feel it has a bit of a negative feel to it. Also, the jokes are super corny and unnecessary.
The book also feels a bit crowded and could possibly overwhelm kids. It could have used a bit more space so it felt less “busy”. Of course, a lot of this is to pack a great deal of information in a marketable book which leads to my final point.
Since there wasn’t room to include all the birds kids might encounter, maybe adding some pages showing what other birds can be found in specific families would help. For example, only three warbler species have profiles and another one is mentioned, but what about the others? And there are special sections that showcase some birds that do not even get a species profile, more of a “teaser”.
Overall, Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Birds is a fun, action-packed guide that is quite attractive to kids and has potential to engage young ones into learning more about birds and exploring habitats to find them.
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