Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Book Review: Real Boys and Girls Go Birding

I discovered this book recently in a local used-book store. Authored by Jack Van Coevering and published by the J. B. Lippincott Company in 1939, the book was selected by the Junior Literary Guild "as an outstanding publication of the month for boys and girls." Interestingly, the 4-person Editorial Board that made this selection for the Junior Literary Guild included Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The book consists of 14 short stories about the adventures of boys and girls with birds under the tutelage of parents, other relatives, or friends. The stories are delightful and seem just as pertinent and relevant today as in 1939.

I was struck by the use of the term “birding” for bird study or bird watching. I’ve always believed this term didn’t come into vogue until about the time that the American Birding Association became firmly established in the early 1970s. It would be enlightening to search back issues of Audubon Magazine and Bird-Lore to see just how commonly the term “birding” was used in the 1930s and 1940s.

Postcript (added 04/06/2006): A colleague recently pointed out that, despite the title, all of the stories involve boys.

This book was purchased at Wonder Books in Hagerstown, Maryland, in early February for $15.50 (plus tax).


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