Written by: Susan Edwards Richmond
Illustrated by: Stephanie Fizer Coleman
For ages: 3 years and up
Topics Covered: Nature, STEM, Birds, Girls Outdoors, POC-Centric Narratives, Environmental Activism, Culture & Traditions, Friendship, Community Involvement.
Summary: We love this book for so many reasons! The plot follows a real-life bird counting event that takes place all over the USA on Christmas Day. Citizen Scientists count birds in their local area and report back what they’re found to team leads. This helps get an accurate representation of bird populations in different areas. The story follows Ava and her mother as they travel around their community with a friend named Big Al.
It’s really great to see the representation of girls outdoors, specifically a family of color! Especially in the States, where we are inundated with Christmas (consumerism, religion, decor) it’s refreshing to have a book that briefly mentions the day that the Bird Count takes place, but there is no emphasis on the holiday itself. There are plenty of people who don’t celebrate it, and having this option to be outdoors and help scientists count birds is a really fun alternative. On each page as well, Ava keeps track of the birds she counts. This helps introduce math and keeping a tally of objects counted to readers. Throughout the book there are tips and descriptions of the birds, helping the reader become more familiar as well. In the back there is a list of the birds featured in the book and an author’s note with more information about the Audubon Society’s annual bird count so you can be a Citizen Scientist too! Overall, we really enjoyed the book and are excited to be able to participate in our own Bird Count on day.
This book was sent to us by Peachtree as part of the Best Books of 2019 project. All opinions are our own!
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Susan Edwards Richmond is the author of the children’s picture book, Bird Count (Peachtree) about a child who becomes a Citizen Scientist for a day in her town’s Christmas Bird Count. A passionate birder and naturalist, Susan teaches preschool on a farm and wildlife sanctuary in eastern Massachusetts. She earned her M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of California, Davis, and is an award-winning poet with five collections of nature-based poetry for adults, including Before We Were Birds (Adastra Press) and Birding in Winter (Finishing Line Press). She is happiest exploring natural habitats with her husband and two daughters, and learns the native birds wherever she travels. Check out her website for a great Q&A!
Stephanie Fizer Coleman is the illustrator for Bird Count. Here is a blurb from her website to learn a little bit more about her!
“I’m an illustrator, designer and generally curious girl living in lovely but misunderstood West Virgina. I was lucky to grow up in a rural area, with a babbling brook and lush forest just a few feet from my back door; I find that the love of nature I developed as a child still influences my work today.
After seriously studying ballet and getting my BA in History, I found my true passion in illustrating and have been working as a freelance illustrator since 2008.
I work in Photoshop and Procreate and have developed a style of working that blends both digital and traditional elements. I enjoy playing around with patterns, textures and brilliant colors in my work. Animals are my favorite subjects to illustrate and I’m thrilled to be illustrating the kinds of books I would have loved when I was a little library-goer.
My client list includes Caterpillar Books, Hallmark, American Greetings, Clarion Books, HarperCollins, Charlesbridge, Peachtree, Highlights, Mudpuppy, Sellers Publishing, Millbrook Press, Design House Greetings, and Walker Books.
When I’m not tucked away in my studio working on a book, you’ll find me tending my vegetable garden, experimenting with new vegan recipes in the kitchen, or curled up with a book and a hot cup of tea.”