scrounge: /skrounj/ informal verb: to actively seek [books] from any available source
One of my favorite picture books we've read in recent years has to be The Sky Painter. This is the poetically told story of Louis Fuertes, artist and ornithologist, considered to be the successor to John James Audubon.
What this book does so well -- in addition to giving us beautiful, colorful illustrations and educating us about an important but under-appreciated historical figure -- is that it captures Fuertes' sense of awe and wonder at birds -- his respect and curiosity that compelled him in his desire to accurately represent their forms and colors.
Not only did Fuertes desire to learn about and paint birds, but he eventually learned to paint quickly while birds were flying or feeding, in order to keep the "life" in his bird sketches, rather than simply shooting them and posing the dead birds for a portrait as was the custom at that time.
This story, written from a first-person point of view, briefly follows Fuertes' early life and education, as well as his numerous expeditions to distant parts of the world to paint all kinds of different birds. This inspiring combination of art and science helps awaken the reader to beauty while also encouraging curiosity.
The book closes with the information that Furtes' bird paintings were printed on cards that people enjoyed collecting, succinctly expressing Fuertes' legacy in:
"All over the world, millions of people
have learned to enjoy, protect,
the wild beauty
The final page gives a brief biography of Fuertes, and includes two of his actual paintings.
Author: Margarita Engle
Illustrator: Aliona Bereghici
Content Advisory: None