cover image She Heard the Birds: The Story of Florence Merriam Bailey

She Heard the Birds: The Story of Florence Merriam Bailey

Andrea D’Aquino. Princeton Architectural Press, $18.95 (38p) ISBN 978-1-64896-050-5

Pioneering nature activist Florence Merriam Bailey (1863–1948) takes center stage in this picture book about a woman who “grew up surrounded by trees,” developing a special fascination with birds. With her astronomer mother as a model of scientific prowess, Bailey paid special attention to the birds’ songs; “She had the feeling/ they/ had/ something/ important/ to/ tell/ her.” When a trip to “the big city” reveals a cruel fashion statement—hats covered with birds and feathers—Bailey determines to make a difference, collecting information and writing books, including an early field guide, and teaching people how to bird-watch (“Shhhhhhh! Listen. What are they saying?”). Though D’Aquino’s compassionate narrative elides clear mention of how Bailey’s actions resulted in a world that “became safer for the birds, and more beautiful for us all,” hand-painted collage, oil pastel, and pencil illustrations place the paper-white protagonist amid stylized scenes that emphasize the personal nature of the figure’s work. Back matter includes an author’s note and recommendations for helping birds. Ages 5–8. (Oct.)