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Review of Bird Girl

Gene Stratton-Porter Shares Her Love

of Nature with the World



Calkins Creek

(Astra Books for Young Readers)

(pub. 3.12.2024)

48 pages

Ages 7 - 10

Author: Jill Esbaum

   Illustrator: Rebecca Gibbon

Character: Gene Stratton-Porter

Overview for review of BIRD GIRL:

" Gene Stratton-Porter was a farm girl who fell in love with birds, from the chickens whose eggs she collected to the hawks that preyed on them.

When she grew up, Gene wanted nothing more than to share her love of birds with the world. She wrote stories about birds, but when a magazine wanted to publish them next to awkward photos of stuffed birds, she knew she had to take matters into her own hands.

Teaching herself photography, Gene began to take photos of birds in the wild. Her knowledge of birds and how to approach them allowed her to get so close you could count the feathers of the birds in her photos. Her work was unlike anything Americans had ever seen before—she captured the true lives of animals in their natural habitat.

A pioneering wildlife photographer and one of the most popular authors of the early 20th century, this bird girl showed the world the beauty of nature and why it was worth preserving."

Tantalizing taste:

"Geneva takes on the care of sixty-four nests. She visits each one every day, inching forward softly, silently, watching and wondering.

If a bird so much as twitches a wing, she freezes ... and waits for it to relax.

The birds, wary at first, are soon chirping hellos and flitting onto Geneva's head and shoulders, tiny claws tickle poking, as she pulls treats from her apron pocket.

Happy birds, happy bird girl."

And something more: Jill Esbaum, in the Author's Note writes: "All of Gene's books... included plenty of what she sometimes called 'nature stuff.' That nature stuff is what kept readers coming back... They often added that her books had sparked in them a commitment to protect wild places. That was Gene's proudest accomplishment. She knew what happened when nature's wild places were lost. She'd seen it outside her own back door. By 1910, there wasn't much left of her beloved Limberlost Swamp...

So imagine how she would feel to learn that two Indiana conservation groups, inspired by her life and books, began in the 1990s to buy up chunks of farmland and woodsy patches that were once part of the 13,000-acre Limberlost Swamp. Their goal? To bring it back. As of this book's publication, nearly 1,800 acres have been restored."


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