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Three books about birds win National Outdoor Book Awards

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Three of the 19 winning books in the 2022 National Outdoor Book Awards are books about birds. The contest, which is in its 26th year, is sponsored by the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation (NOBA), Idaho State University, and the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education.

Marina Richie, who has written articles for BirdWatching for more than a decade, won the Journeys category with her first book, Halcyon Journey: In Search of the Belted Kingfisher.

In the book, Richie searches for a kingfisher nest near her home in Montana. As readers follow along, she weaves together scientific studies with stories of her family. We learn that the kingfisher is the halcyon of Greek mythology, a bird with magical powers who could calm the waters of the sea when it nested.

Her simple desire to observe kingfishers turns into a halcyon quest and sends her on far-flung adventures to other continents to learn more about these mythic birds.

“This is superb nature writing,” said Ron Watters, the chair of the National Outdoor Book Awards. It is engrossing, enlightening, and illuminating. Marina Richie is clearly an exciting new voice in nature writing.”

One of two winners of the Design & Artistic Merit category is Drawn to Birds: A Naturalist’s Sketchbook by Jenny deFouw Geuder. NOBA says of the book:

“This charming book is a splendid melding of art and text.  Open it and the book immediately radiates appeal, drawing you in with a profusion of colorful watercolors.  The watercolors are supplemented with text etched in delicate calligraphy, easy on the eyes and in perfect harmony with the artwork.  After an introduction on how to identify birds, Jenny deFouw Geuder covers more than 60 bird species found in the backyard or in nearby parks.  She includes ideas on how to create a better habitat in your yard and ties it up with a segment on common wildflowers and insects.”

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Lastly, the winner of the Children’s Books category is Alaska is for the Birds! by Susan Ewing and illustrated by Evon Zerbetz. Intended for children ages 5 to 8, the book describes 14 birds that can be found in Alaska.

“What makes this book stand out is a combination of poems and colorful illustrations,” said Watters. “The poems are pure fun – and they rhyme in a musical way which makes it a joy to read to children.”

And School Library Journal wrote: “Fourteen Alaskan birds come to life in this exquisite book… Ewing, an experienced author of naturalist topics, weaves the poems into melodic informational texts. Paired with fellow Alaskan Zerbetz, the two create an attractive view of their local wildlife. The lino-cut art is bright and enhances the personality of each bird. A handsome spotlight on these feathered friends, this is recommended for nonfiction collections and fans of wildlife.”

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Read more about the 2022 National Outdoor Book Awards

Read our reviews of Halcyon Journeys and Drawn to Birds

Read BirdWatching stories by Marina Richie

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