The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon

by Jacqueline Davies and Melissa Sweet

When John James Audubon was 18 years old, he traveled alone from his home in France... read more

When John James Audubon was 18 years old, he traveled alone from his home in France to America. His father hoped that he would learn about American business, and he also wanted to protect his son from military service in a Napoleonic war. “But what he liked to do best, from sunup to sundown, was watch birds.” John James roamed the Pennsylvania countryside, sharpening his observational skills. His attic room housed his collection of pencil and crayon drawings of birds, which he would review and then burn each year on his birthday. The young artist hoped to someday make drawings he thought worthy of saving. John James Audubon was an astute naturalist, and migration theories he developed during these early years, although they were contrary to scientific opinion of the time, were later proven true. This picture-book biography focuses on Audubon’s first year in America. A one-page note provides supplemental information about the rest of his career. Author’s and artist’s source notes and a bibliography of related adult books provide further background. The illustrations nicely complement Audubon’s style of collection and observation, utilizing a range of media including watercolors and gouache, pen and ink, pencil and collage. (Ages 5–9)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2005

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