Sunday, January 17, 2016

Don't Judge a Bird by its Feathers

January 27th is Multicultural Children's Book Day: Celebrating Diversity in Children's Literature. 

I am honored to have been chosen as one of the book reviewers for this unique and wonderful event. Diverse books not only provide much needed mirrors for children of color to see themselves reflected in literature, they also give white children a window into the experience of others. And that's vital if we are to raise sensitive, compassionate kids who are global citizens.
Tori Nighthawk is a gifted artist and author who wrote and illustrated “Don’t Judge a Bird by its Feathers” at the age of 13. She drew her illustrations by hand, scanned them into her computer and then used graphic design programs to colorize the images. Her simple drawings are enhanced by bold colors. Her choice of New Guinea images are unique ones that most readers may have not seen before. The book was published in May of 2013 and promptly won a Gold Medal Mom’s Choice Award and a Pinnacle Peak award for Children’s Educational Books.
Tori has traveled extensively. She was chosen to travel with People to People as a Student Ambassador to Australia as well as several European countries. One of Tori’s favorite family trips was to the Galapagos Islands because the animals there are unafraid of humans, allowing her to study their interactions at close proximity. Observing people and wildlife were Tori’s inspiration for “Don’t Judge a Bird by it’s Feathers.” Tori is 16 now and plans to enter college next fall.

The story is simple – a boy bird of paradise Phoenix loves a girl bird of paradise, Luminous. He must find a way to win the affection of the most beautiful Bird of Paradise in the rain forest. Phoenix is determined to woo Luminous. He works hard to practice the bird dance and change his outward appearance to win her over despite the other animals teasing him. It's only when Luminous realizes that Phoenix is willing to risk his life for her that she asks for his forgiveness. After a time she comes to love him for his quick wit, strong spirit and brave heart. 

I enjoyed the added bonus, a moral which enhances the book for discussion purposes.The story illustrates three trials/life lessons which are practice, be yourself, and be brave. The author’s message that she was trying to convey to her readers is that children are often excluded or accepted on the basis of their appearance. Through her book, Tori hopes to teach children to be kind to one other, to overlook superficial differences, to resist peer pressure, be true to themselves, and strive to reach their dreams. It is quite evident the author has stayed true to her beliefs following her dream with the publication of this book. 

Since the picture book and text is double what an ordinary picture length is, my target age recommendation would be ages 7-9. The appendix at the back of the book is a terrific addition. It contains photographs of the critters in the story with detailed descriptions. What a wonderful resource for readers and an invaluable resource for the science curriculum. 

My congratulations to Tori who at such a young age is a published author and illustrator.

Suggested Home and Classroom Activities for "Don't Judge a Bird by its Feathers"
1. Literature Connection
Non-fiction picture book where young naturalists meet sixteen birds in this elegant introduction to the many uses of feathers. A concise main text highlights how feathers are not just for flying. More curious readers are invited to explore informative sidebars, which underscore specific ways each bird uses its feathers for a variety of practical purposes. 

2. Science Connection
    Biology youtube video Birds of Paradise Mating Dance Birds of Paradise Introduction

3. Art Connection
Directions on how to make your own unique cardboard Birds of Paradise
Order your free poster
The MCCBD team’s mission is to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. MCCBD encourages readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits and events. The full name of this event is Multicultural Children’s Book Day and the official hashtag is #ReadYourWorld on Twitter and other social media.

The co-creators of MCCBD are Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press. Find a bio for Mia and Valarie here. View the Diversity Book Lists and Resources for Educators and Parents here. Connect with Multicultural Children’s Book Day on Facebook.

MCCBD Sponsors

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2016 Medallion Level Sponsors #ReadYourWorld include the following:
PlatinumWisdom Tales Press, StoryQuest Books, Lil Libros
GoldAuthor Tori Nighthawk, Candlewick Press Bharat Babies
Silver Lee and Low Books, Chronicle Books , Capstone Young Readers
Turtle Publishing, NY Media Works
Bronze Pomelo Books, Author Jacqueline Woodson, Papa Lemon Books, Goosebottom Books,Author Gleeson Rebello, ShoutMouse Press, Author Mahvash Shahegh, China liveoakmedia

MCCBD Co-Hosts
Multicultural Children’s Book Day has 12 amazing Co-Hosts and you can view them here.
Classroom Reading Challenge
MCCBD holds a Classroom Reading Challenge. This very special offering offers teachers and classrooms the chance to earn a free hardcover multicultural children’s book for their classroom library. These books are not only donated by the Junior Library Guild, but they are also pre-screened and approved by them as well.

e the post book review "Don't Judge a Bird by it's Feathers"
for Multicultural Children’s Book Day and related activities #ReadYourWorld”

The Classroom Reading Challenge has begun! Teachers can earn a free diversity book! #teachers, #books


  1. Thanks for this truly informative post, Sue. I can only imagine the places this young author will go given how much she's already accomplished.

  2. Yes she certainly has accomplished what most adult authors have been striving for years to get published. Truly amazing.

  3. What really caught my eye about the book and author is, not only is Tori only a teen, she's the author AND the illustrator! Great book. Great review! Thanks for being a part of MCCBD2016!

  4. Thank you so much for such a useful review and the activities. The book looks great and I will look for it. I hope we see more from this young author!

  5. Thanks for sharing this wonderful book and review, Sue! We appreciate you!

  6. Very informative book review of "Don't Judge a Book by its Feathers." Isn't it amazing how much we can learn from diverse books and from our youth?