Guide to Troubled Birds: showing birds as the jerks they sometimes are

Guide to Troubled BirdsDo you like birds but are not fooled into thinking they’re all tiny, adorable angels with pretty feathers? Then Guide to Troubled Birds is for you. In the spirit of David Sedaris’ Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, the Guide sheds light on birds’ lesser known and even flattering features.

Written ostensibly by “the mincing mockinbird”, illustrator Matt Adrian paints pictures of birds with a mean or crazy gleam in their eyes. He draws on their cunning and personal scheming. On owls: “A barn owl…once successfully impersonated a mailman for several months in St. Charles, Illinois. If you see an owl, or suspect someone may be an owl, play dead immediately…”

Sure, some of the birds are in nice stable relationships–until their brutal death. But most in the book are demanding, greedy, nasty, selfish, narcissistic. It’s more fun–and maybe more realistic–to see birds as individuals with creepy personalities than as automatons that can only be differentiated by their feathers.

It’s a short book that I laughed all the way through. And when my young daughter picked it up, fascinated ┬áby the pretty pictures, I found there was virtually nothing I could read to her that wouldn’t scare the crap out of her.


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