cover image Roger Tory Peterson's ABC of Birds: A Book for Little Birdwatchers

Roger Tory Peterson's ABC of Birds: A Book for Little Birdwatchers

Roger Tory Peterson, Linda Westervelt. Universe Publishing(NY), $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7893-0009-6

The venerable ornithologist's subjects fly, perch, run, waddle and swim their way through the alphabet in this eyecatching book. The superbly reproduced, arrestingly scaled art in diverse media-paintings, photographs and collages of field guide illustrations-maintains a high level of visual excitement all the way from Albatross to Zeneida Dove, no mean feat for an abecedary with its predetermined path. Finely wrought layouts pair these varied pictures with brief text blocks set off by brightly colored initial capitals. Most entries concentrate on particular birds, but three unexpectedly offer interesting general information: ""F"" is for ""feathers,"" ""N"" is for ""nest"" and ""T"" is for ``tails.'' The tone of the text varies, too, but less successfully-a coy phrase like ``White Pelicans scoop lots of yummy fish'' is rather discordant when facing ``Quails have plumes like the hats on leaders of marching bands.'' Despite the subtitle, this book is more for bird fanciers than for birdwatchers-the birds shown here may be striking, but they are not likely to be spotted by the audience (illustrating ``W,'' for example, is the uncommon Pileated woodpecker, not the familiar Downy woodpecker). The result: a bit of a peacock, gorgeous to behold, but not a high-flier. Ages 2-5. (Sept.)