100 Scope Notes
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Nonfiction Monday: Look Up! by Annette LeBlanc Cate

Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard
By Annette LeBlanc Cate

Candlewick Press

ISBN: 9780763645618
Grades 2-4
In Stores March 12, 2013

*Best New Book*

Find it at:
Schuler Books | Your Library

Let us be honest – in terms of activities for kids, birdwatching is pretty low on the popularity list. Due to this, you don’t see many books on the topic. Sure there are guides and handbooks for identifying different birds, but not much in the way of “here’s how you do it”. Look Up! is a “here’s how you do it” kind of book. But it’s more than that. Annette LeBlanc Cate (The Magic Rabbit) mashes up nonfiction, a picture book, and a comic to create something fresh, engaging, and – this is the most impressive point – something that might inspire readers to pick up a notepad and look skyward. An excellent book for budding ornithologists and for those who have no idea what that means.

What happens when you look up? Not much, eh? Look closely – you’d be surprised. While it might seem like there isn’t a ton of wildlife, most backyards and apartment roofs are home to a variety of birds. LeBlanc Cate, a birdwatcher herself, tells and shows what it’s all about. Her love of the subject is clear in sections dedicated to all aspects of birdwatching, including habitats, identification, behavior, and more.

When I first laid eyes on this book I expected to whip through in 5 minutes. I ended up taking 40. There’s a lot going on here and I didn’t want to miss any of it. The tone may be light, but the information is substantial. Every page is packed with text, illustrations, hand-drawn charts, maps, and humor (usually provided by the birds themselves). Even the endpapers are full of helpful hints. Through it all, the emphasis is on enjoyment, not on expensive equipment and miraculous findings, inviting anyone interested to take part.

The scratchy pen & ink and watercolor illustrations match the often comic tone of the book.

Show this to students with an interest in birds, and chances are they’ll be glad you did. It might even create a few bird lovers along the way. Informative and entertaining, this is a book that I hope finds its way into the hands of a lot of young readers.

Review copy from the publisher.

Be sure to check out the Nonfiction Monday round-up at The LibrariYAn.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. We adored The Magic Rabbit and hadn’t seen anything else by Cate–this looks very different (colorful, for one thing)! Will definitely check it out.

  2. I love bird watching and we get amazing diversity here near Boston but my kids have never been into it. Maybe a book like this would help!