I Found a Dead Bird: The Kids' Guide to the Cycle of Life and Death
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Index
Sandy Campbell is a reference librarian in the Science and Technology Library at the University of Alberta.
This eclectic book is loosely organized around the life and death theme.
It is attractively produced, with bright backgrounds and contrasting
titles. Each page contains numerous photographs and several paragraphs.
The author wanders a lot, often some distance from the theme. For
example, after a two-page spread on how things die, Thornhill spends a
page on how different organisms get energy, food webs, and primary and
secondary consumers. Many of the sections read like an elementary-level
science text. Interspersed among highly relevant topics such as
“Doesn’t it hurt to be killed?” are peripheral materials such as a
discussion of extreme weather events, with only passing references to
While there is a whole page of photo credits, there are no references
to allow the user to check the validity of the content. This is
particularly disquieting when specific claims are made, such as when
Thornhill lists annual approximate numbers for human accidental deaths
in North America. There is nothing to tell readers the age of the data
or that these are selected causes, rather than the top causes. For
example, the second number lists 860 deaths as a result of “furniture
falls”; U.S. Census data, readily available on the Internet, shows
that in 2003 this number was close to the total for the United States
alone, rather than all of North America. And further, deaths from all
accidental falls was a much higher tally.
In spite of the book’s misleading title and subtitle, the content
would support upper elementary-level curriculum. Recommended.