“Birds and feathers go together, like trees and leaves, like stars and the sky.”

Melissa Stewart’s lyrical voice makes this information-packed book a great read aloud. The layered text structure is elegantly simple. Each spread compares a function of feathers to something in a child’s frame of reference–“Feathers can shade out sun like an umbrella”–and then smaller print (the second layer of text) explains that sweeping generalization in greater detail.

The first layer of text is very short–only about 175 words–but it provides a perfect framework for understanding all the information packed more densely in the second layer of text.

In the back matter, Stewart talks about the scholarly articles about feathers that first piqued her interest and about her struggle to find the right structure for this information.

Feathers: Not Just for Flying, by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen. Charlesbridge: 2014.