Word Wednesday The Aviary

Word Wednesday ‘The Aviary’ by Matt Merritt

Books Columns Reviews Word Wednesday

Word Wednesday The Aviary This Week’s Word Is “Aviary”

This week’s Word Wednesday is a work of art. It literally says so on the cover. When you open the book up, it’s easy to see why. The Aviary is from a series of books called “Paperscapes.” Books that are part pop-up and part field guide. The book is filled with beautiful ink illustrations of birds from around the world.The Aviary is perfect for bibliophile ornithologists everywhere.

What is The Aviary?

It’s a compact hardback of 110 pages, and is filled with more than 50 species of bird. (Each page leaf depicts one bird, each double-page spread, therefore, contains two.) Each entry contains an ink drawing of the bird, beneath which sits its English name and its Latin species name. Below that are four facts about the species, and then some descriptive text about the bird in question. The four facts are:

  • Length.
  • Wingspan.
  • Weight.
  • Range (Where the species can be found.)

The descriptive text is usually a mixture of biographical information about the bird’s habitats, feeding habits, and adverse effects on its current population. Sadly, many of the species in the book are under threat. The entries also contain information about coloration and singing patterns. There are also mentions of popular cultural references, such as the skylark, being the inspiration for Elgar’s “Lark Ascending.”

Each page of the book has a plain white, perforated, tear-away section, which, after removal, leaves the outline of a bird sticking up above the descriptive text. This gives the book a more tactile quality, one that resembles a pop-up book, though the pages remain in two dimensions; nothing physically “pops-up.” Whilst the book’s perforations are of good quality, some care is needed when tearing out the unneeded sections. It is possible to tear the pictures in places they’re not meant to be torn.

It’s worth noting that whilst each entry is double-sided, the picture of the birds on both sides of a page-leaf are the same. They’re not a presentation of the bird’s of front and back (or perhaps, side). It’s also worth noting that the book has no particular order. The birds are not organized by region, nor alphabetically, for example. As there is neither contents page nor index, I found this a little frustrating.

Then again, The Aviary is a book for browsing, and the best way to find out what’s inside is to browse.

My copy of ‘The Aviary’ A book that looks amazing.

Why Read The Aviary?

If you want a book for bird identification, you’ll probably want to buy something else. If you’re looking for something that marries the beauty of books with the wonders of nature, then The Aviary is just for you.

The book’s overall appearance, once all the pages have had their blank sections torn away, is impressive. Even after releasing just a few birds from their in-page captivity, the effect of the book’s interior is very striking.

I found the text interesting and informative, and the range of birds covered impressive. It’s not just the bright and beautiful ones, but some small drab brown ones too. All the birds chosen make the reader appreciate the wonder of the avian kingdom. The addition of a few bits of hard factual data about the bird is a welcome addition too. Especially for the data-geeks amongst us.

All in all, this is a gorgeous book, about some beautiful creatures. The book is indeed a work of art. As I mentioned at the top of the review, it’s just one book in a whole series that includes dinosaurs, insects, and the Space Race. Personally, I can’t wait to get my hands on the Butterfly Pavilion.

In the meantime, check out The Aviary, tell your friends, maybe even share this review. Surely, it’s worth at least a tweet? And on that dubious note, I’ll fly away.

If you’d like to pick up a copy of The Aviary, you can do so here, in the US and here, in the UK.

If you enjoyed this post, do check out my other Word Wednesday posts, here.

Disclosure: A copy of this book was provided for review. 

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