In the Belly of an Ox

The Unexpected Photographic Adventures
of Richard and Cherry Kearton

This post is part of Nonfiction Monday
hosted today by Writing Nonfiction for Children
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
(pub. 11.16.2009)
32 pages
Ages 5 to 8

A True Tale with A Cherry On Top

A uthor and illustrator: Rebecca Bond

C haracters:  Brothers Richard Kearton and Cherry Kearton
O verview from book flap: 
      "They would have to be sneaky and clever. They would need veils and disguises [including a hollow ox]. And they would probably have to endure hunger and thirst, insect stings and rainstorms, and wade through bogs, and rope down precipitous cliffs.
     But if the brothers succeeded, they would accomplish something no one ever had before.
     With inspired prose and paintings, this book tells the true story of how two brothers from the hills of Yorkshire became known as the most innovative bird photographers of all time."

T antalizing taste:
      "All of a sudden, because of [the Keartons' book] British Birds' Nests, in the country and cities and reaches beyond, people were out looking for birds and their nests.  And instead of stealing the nests, or even plundering them for their egg trophies, curious observers were now content to identify the nests and eggs and birds and to leave the eggs in their nests to hatch."

and something more:
Rebecca Bond, the author and illustrator of this delightful picture book biography, In the Belly of an Ox, was born in Vienna, Austria, but raised in the tiny village of Peacham in northeastern Vermont.  She spent summer days building forts and rafts and still feels defined by the rural environment of her childhood. As she wrote, "It was through this world of hilly landscapes and marked seasons that I became someone who loves to read and watch and draw." 
     Just recently, a dear friend took me on my first official birdwatching outing, and I was so pleased when she showed me how to distinguish between a male Bufflehead (with its striking patch of white against black on its head) and a Hooded Merganser (also with oval white cheek patches but more of a pompadour look).   
      Birdwatching reminds me of what we seek to do as writers -- pause and pay attention to the details, and then find just the right words, as did the naturalist, John Burroughs: "When nature made the blue bird she wished to propitiate both the sky and the earth, so she gave him the color of the one on his back and the hue of the other on his breast."

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