Aviary Wonders Inc.: Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual

Kate Samworth. Clarion, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-547-97899-4
Unsettling and unforgettable, this faux-catalog purports to replace extinct bird species with build-a-bird automatons. Sub-subtitled “Renewing the World’s Bird Supply Since 2031,” the compendium opens with earnest words from its founder, who “discovered a passion for bird watching while working for my family’s logging company”: “We can’t replace the birds that have been lost. But we can provide you with the opportunity to create an exquisite alternative.” Samworth, making her debut, marries conventional sales language to florid multimedia illustrations of disembodied bird parts “handcrafted and made to order by world-class artisans.” Bird bodies (e.g., moa, swan, condor), sans beaks, wings, or feet, are presented as basic options. Shoppers choose from “hardwood or porcelain” strap-on beaks, screw-on legs, durable silk wings, and optional “embellishments” like the gaudy “Rockette” crest or the ocean-blue “Rachel Carson” wattles “made from recycled rubber.” A closing section on assembly, with instructions for teaching the robotic birds to fly and sing, only deepens the uncanny sense of loss. This cautionary guidebook mimes ads that fetishize wildlife; Samworth’s bracing irony will stimulate discussion among conservationists. Ages 9–12. Agent: Nancy Gallt, Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/20/2014
Release date: 03/04/2014
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Ebook - 32 pages - 978-0-547-97913-7
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