Category Archives: Kids

Pixels AND Pigments are for Kids

Benefitting from Wildlife Books with Drawings and not Simply Photos  

By Lance Hickerson, Reference Assistant

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A few months ago in the children’s library I stopped abruptly upon glimpsing a book on the shelf that I had not seen since childhood. It was my very first bird book, the Golden Press Guide, Birds. Certainly it had an updated cover, but inside were many of the same drawings that started my birding in the fourth grade. Alongside the classic book were other bird guides for children. Some of them, like Birds A to Z by Chris Earley, contain clear and close up photos of the same birds covered by drawings in the Golden Guide. It was then that a question arose: Why have a bird book with drawings when you can have one with well-done photos? Aren’t we in the digital age? Why had Golden Press continued to use drawings when so many good photos were now available?

At first I thought the answer might be that the latest version of the Golden Guide continued to use drawings for cost-saving reasons. But near the Golden Guide were newer books like the World Book Science and Nature Guide to Birds, and the Usborne Spotter’s Guide to Birds, both full of detailed drawings and no photos. Is there something about drawings that photos cannot do?

I asked a similar question some years back to a talented painter who trained at Parsons and traveled to Nice, France each year creating Matisse-like water colors that hang on walls the world over. My question to her was this: “Why would anyone want a painted portrait, when they could hire a good photographer to do the same?” Her answer was instructive. She explained that a painting is able to express things a photograph might only accidentally show. A painting can reveal marks of character that endure over time, those aspects of heart that a single photographic instance will often miss. And that is why good portrait artists continue to get commissions, like Paul Emsley who recently completed a painting of Kate Middleton entitled, Portrait of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
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Is there a sense in which the principles of portraiture apply to pictures of animals in general and birds in particular? Do we see good “portrait artists” of birds receiving commissions? The answer surprised me at first. A survey of some of the best bird identification field guides presently available shows that, while some have outstanding photos, others continue to offer painted bird drawings. Among these are The Sibley Guide to Birds, the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, and the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America.

The lead artist for the National Geographic book, Jonathan Alderfer, comments on using illustrations versus photography. “Even though a series of photographs can reveal minute details, most birders eventually come to realize that illustrations are more helpful than photographs in a field guide. Art distills the image of a bird into what our brains experience rather than what a camera sees in a single instant, and illustrations are much easier to compare … “

David Allen Sibley recently released an update to his 2000 best seller, The Sibley Guide to Birds. He was interviewed by The Wall Street Journal (Ellen Gamerman, “Bird-World Star David Allen Sibley Releases New Guide,” March 12, 2014) which reveals the following:

A perpetual researcher, Mr. Sibley brings his binoculars everywhere, even to the gas station. He is always sketching in the field, a process he calls “interviewing the bird,” which he said allows him to internalize each bird’s gestures and shapes.

The Sibley guide has one main purpose: to help identify and differentiate more than 900 species. Mr. Sibley’s birds aren’t the most lifelike . . . but instead demonstrate the most essential traits of a species.

“Sibley’s achievement has been to draw birds not as they are but as they appear to the birder trying to identify them,” novelist Jonathan Franzen, an avid birder, wrote in an email. “They’re brilliant drawings of ideas, of what the birder needs to be seeing.”

In all this there is a strong irony. One of the greatest bird artists of all time has a wonderful society by his name (Audubon) that publishes an indispensable bird guide full of photographs. But as we have seen, others continue the drawing tradition that even today plays a significant role in acquainting us with nature. Bird watching is an increasingly popular hobby with presently around 47 million Americans participating. If the latest Golden Guide to birds (Birds of North America, Golden Field Guide from St. Martin’s Press) becomes our childrens’ first bird book among so many available, we have done well. There will always be good photos, but drawings can express things photos cannot. It is good that we, and our children, benefit from both.

 

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Avoid the Summer Slide!

By Susan Fisher, Bethesda Branch Manager

Summer’s here and school’s out! Time to relax and have fun, but did you know that kids can lose as a month or more of academic progress during the summer if they don’t read? It’s called “summer slide” and it’s what happens if kids don’t use their hard-earned skills during summer vacation.  According to a report from the National Summer Learning Association, teachers often have to spend the first month of school reteaching old material to their students, causing time to be lost that could be spent on new learning.

How can summer slide be prevented? The key is to keep kids reading all summer long. If you have a reluctant reader, here are some ideas:

  • Let your child’s interests guide their reading. It’s summer, so give them the freedom to read whatever they want.
  • Your summer schedule may be busy, but be sure to set aside time for reading among all of your activities.
  • Leave reading material around your house about subjects that interest your child.
  • Let your child see you reading for pleasure. By setting a good example, you show your child that you value and enjoy reading.

Another remedy for summer slide is our Fizz Boom Read 2014 Summer Reading Program! Lots of fun programs keep kids coming to library and checking out great books all summer long. Registration is going on now at your Williamson County Public Library branch. Stop in today to sign up and start reading! We also have summer reading for teens and adults, with some great programs and prizes. Check it out on our website, WCPLtn.org

Celebrate Children’s Book Week with WCPLtn !

By Jeffie Nicholson, Adult Services Manager

How you ask?

Read !!!

Everyday… but specifically May 12 -May 18, 2014

Children’s Book Week is the annual celebration of books for young people and the joy of reading.

It started in 1919 due to Franklin K. Matthiews’ belief that children’s books and literacy can change your life. He was the librarian for the Boy Scouts of America and he started promoting higher standards in children’s books in 1913. He proposed creating a Children’s Book Week to publishers, booksellers, and librarians.

You can participate and enjoy the week by reading a children’s book today!

Want to have more fun after reading?

Visit http://www.bookweekonline.com/puzzles to get a puzzle based on previous winners of the Children’s Choice Book Awards which are voted on by parents, young people, and librarians. If you have a Fancy Nancy fan, you may want to order one of the free Children’s Book Week poster http://www.bookweekonline.com/poster.

Bookmarks are available to print for free online too at http://www.bookweekonline.com/bookmark.

Visit http://ccbookawards.com/ if you’d like to vote for your favorite children’s book or see past winners and runners up.

Need a book? Then come see us at Williamson County Public Library, we’d love to see you in our Children’s or Teen rooms and help you find the perfect book or books to enjoy this week.

 

Bucky & Bonnie Do WCPLtn !!!

Our littlest readers were in for a treat this past Wednesday,  when our two favorite (and published) miniature horses, Bucky & Bonnie came to a special storytime!

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Our director, Dolores Greenwald, read the book Bucky & Bonnie’s Library Adventure and the mini horses joined us after the reading!

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They offered hoof print autographed copies to patrons, and our Friends group sold copies of the book to our die hard fans!

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If you missed this awesome event, log in to your Facebook account and click here to view our photo album!

And if you’re on twitter, you can click here to view our stream of live tweets of the event!

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