Caroline Arnold's Books

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Birds: Nature's Magnificent Flying Machines

Birds has been translated into Korean by Gilbut Children's Publishing Company, 2005.

Birds has been translated into Chinese by Alvita Publishing Company, 2013 (A division of Ollin Publishing Company, Ltd.)

This book looks at how feathers, body structure, and wings vary from bird to bird. Readers will learn the mechanics of bird flight from takeoff to landing and discover how wing types meet the survival needs of each species.

Common Core Curriculum Connections
  • Language Arts: expository text, research topics
  • Science (life): characteristics of organisms, life cycles, organisms and their environment
  • Prizes and Awards
  • Junior Library Guild selection for October 2003.
  • Selected for CCBC Choices 2004, published by the Cooperative Children's Book Center of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Selected for The Best Children's Books of the Year list by the Children's Book Committee of the Bank Street College of Education.
  • Recommended reading for grades 6-8, International Migratory Bird Day in Iowa, 2008
  • Related Books
  • A Bald Eagle's World (PWB, 2010)
  • A Penguin's World (PWB, 2006)
  • Dinosaurs With Feathers: The Ancestors of Modern Birds
  • Ostriches (an Earlybird Nature Book)
  • Hawk Highway in the Sky: Watching Raptor Migration
  • On the Brink of Extinction: The California Condor
  • House Sparrows Everywhere (Carolrhoda, 1992)
  • Flamingo (Morrow Junior Books, 1991)
  • Ostriches and Other Flightless Birds (a Nature Watch Book) (Carolrhoda, 1990)
  • Penguin (Morrow Junior Books, 1988)
  • Five Nests (Dutton, 1980)
  • Reviews
    Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2003

    A terrific example of the best sort of science book for young readers, this focuses on one aspect of birds, their ability to fly, and examines it from all angles. We see how a bird's flight is related to its anatomy--long wings are good for soaring, for example, while short, rounded wings are good for fast turns--and how that anatomy is also related to the bird's habitat and lifestyle. Ruffed grouses don't need to soar; albatrosses do. This form-follows function argument allows readers to extrapolate beyond the book, and more fully understand birds they might see on their own. The detailed, vibrant illustrations enhance and enliven the text; they and the lovely clear layout make this book a delight for the eye. A winner.

    John Peters, Booklist, June 1 and 15, 2003

    The author of Hawk Highway in the Sky (1997) and many other natural history titles captures the wonders of bird flight in this brief but specific examination of avian bones, feathers, and other physical features. Illustrated both aptly and expressively by precisely drawn portraits of more than three dozen birds--plus a selection of other animal fliers and gliders--Arnold's text explains the principles of aerodynamic lift, then considers the ins and outs of taking off, hovering, changing direction, and trickiest of all, landing. ... Children will not only learn the differences between primary, secondary, tertiary, covert, and downy feathers but come away with a deeper appreciation of how they all work to give birds, as it were, a leg up.

    Greg Laden,, June 21, 2008

    Birds: Nature's Magnificent Flying Machines is a book by Caroline Arnold and illustrated by Patricia Wynne for, I'd say, Pre-Elementary School kids and first/second grade. This is a good book to read to a pre-literate kid. Then put it away for later when the first grade academic report on birds is due ... it will be an excellent reference. This is a well done and highly recommended book. Birds... is highly specialized. It deals with only one topic: Bird flight. I like that. Who needs just another book on birds. Demonstrating to the little ones that there are questions that can be asked about nature, and interesting explanations, and even some experiments, one can do is a clear step above the pretty picture and the cute story. The illustrations are excellent. You may have seen Wynne's illustrations previously in the African Savanna book (which, as an older volume is a great bargain at less than 10 bucks). Both author and illustrator of Birds... have been producing excellent kids books for a long time. At the very least, this book has value because it introduces kids to the fact that birds don't just sit there looking pretty and making noise, and they don't just fly from place. They have more complex behaviors that vary across species and across context. By the way, the author, Caroline Arnold, is a home-girl from Minneapolis! As you can tell because of the excellence of her work.