An imploring kiwi wonders where it fits into its "feathered family" in David Opie's delightful author/illustrator debut, All the Birds in the World, a guide to birds' distinctive features and commonalities for young readers.
After first dispensing with the species' uniting features, Opie then offers an exploration of the differences among more than 100 birds' attributes and appearances. Opie dedicates a sweeping double-page spread to each feature, surveying eggs, nests, foot shape and more. On a page with 14 bird heads in profile (plus kiwi), the text reads, "All birds have beaks of different shapes and sizes. Birds use their beaks to smash seeds, tear apart meat, sip plant nectar, gulp down fish, and hammer into wood to get grubs." Opie's softly hued and magnificently detailed illustrations celebrate birds from many regions, and his writing, imposed only on the right-hand page of every spread, informs without overwhelming young readers. Meanwhile, Opie punctuates every array with a beseeching brown kiwi whose distinctive font and plaintive questions--"But what about me?"--play empathetically off Opie's straightforward text. Ultimately, to readers' relief, Opie celebrates our featherless friend and situates the kiwi squarely among its peers, despite its unusual appearance.
Opie's comprehensive illustrations invite rereading, the birds' eyes rendered with particularly tender expressiveness. While the kiwi's metaphorical insecurities may prove understated for younger children, its presence affirms one can fit in while standing out from peers. Fledgling bird watchers will appreciate strong backmatter that includes a guide to the title's many colorful birds. Opie (illustrator of Dozer's Run) confides his long-held fascination with birds in an author's note, and his enthusiasm for the avian world shines through this colorful, informative picture book. --Kit Ballenger, youth librarian, Help Your Shelf