I love my local bookstore. It's everything a bookstore should be. Old, wide plank wood floors, narrow corridors, and that wonderful smell of paper and binding glue. They also happen to have very good taste in books, with great little "We recommend" plaques hanging in front of titles worth a second look. That's how I found this wonderful new release of an old classic.
Meet Charley Harper, 20th century graphic designer and artist working in a genre he called "minimal realism." Incidentally he was also a rather unique birder. For 30 years his work graced the covers and pages of the Ford Motor Company's magazine and countless other posters and publications. But it was birds that most often caught his eye.
Having a background in art history, I was a little dismayed I had never come across this thoughtful and highly expressive artist. His work immediately jumped off the page and into my imagination, while his witty descriptions of each type of bird felt like those of an old friend. He is quoted as saying "I could never get close enough to count the feathers in the wings, so I just count the wings." His work reflects this sentiment in its simplicity, but don't let that fool you. Each illustration is carefully thought out and well researched. From the exact paint color to feather color matching, to the energy and habitat of each bird species, everything you need to know is right there on each page.
Originally published in 1974, the book is organized by region, making it easy to find your favorite birds...
... and to the left of every illustration is a delightful introduction that gets to the heart of what each type of bird is really like.
I have been sitting and pondering about what book we should add as our first for 2014, and I have to say, serendipity took the cake with this one. I can't open it it without smiling, and once I do, I can't put it down. Perfect for kids and parents to read together, Charles Harper's Birds & Words is a treasure worthy of a place on everyone's book shelf.
Which of course, is why we think one of you lovely people should have a copy!
For a chance to win a copy of Charles Harper's Birds & Words simply leave a comment on this post by 8am MST Thursday January 23rd. The winner will be chosen by random number and announced later that day.
... And the winner is Kelly who wrote:
"Charley Harper was amazing. I was fortunate see an art exhibit featuring his work at a nearby museum. It was a most inspiring collection of works. This book would be happy in our home :)"
Thank you to everyone who participated!
* Last time in Books and Stories: Oh the Places We Went!