Brilliant Birds, by Matthew Morgan & Suhel Ahmad, is a beautifully produced sequel to ‘British Wildlife’ by the same publisher.  Stunning illustrations of birds from all over the world feature on colourful themed double page spreads. Birds are grouped according to the kinds of interesting facts which make them memorable to children – by colour: ‘Green and Gorgeous’, ‘Alluring Yellow’, ‘Crafty Camouflage’; according to distinctive features such as ‘Unbelievable Beaks’, ‘Flightless Fancies’, or ‘Fabulous Feathers’; and by special talents including ‘Speed Kings’, ‘Diving Champions’, and ‘Soaring Sensations’. Text is minimal although scattered with interesting facts – the main draw of the book is its illustrations and the skill with which they have been arranged and presented in order to capture a child’s imagination.  It is not a handbook or exhaustive guide, but rather a picture book designed to ignite interest and the imagination.

This book would be treasured by a keen ornithologist, but is also an excellent introduction to the world of birds for children who have had previously little or no interest in bird watching.  It would be a very popular and informative addition to a reference library for primary children – its focus on speed, size, and abilities of different birds could render it a useful focus in numeracy work, or in talking about diversity in the classroom.  Such a dynamic and colourful introduction to the variety of birdlife on our planet is sure to engender interest in the bird life in the immediate environment and a natural outworking of using this book as a stimulus would be to spend time with children finding out and even observing bird life in school grounds or in their gardens at home.

Philippa Riste 

Brilliant Birds. Matthew Morgan, Suhel Ahmad (2016). QED Publishing. Hardback, pp64. ISBN 978-1-78493-611-2. £9.99.

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