This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.
I was truly disappointed in this book. It certainly is a good idea to get kids out into the fresh air and exercising as well as hopefully doing something for the environment, but what exactly are they doing for the environment? This is where this book failed for me and why I cannot rate it positively.
There was another minor issue in that this book is designed as a print book and not as an ebook. In the ebook, the pages are presented not as single pages, but as double pages meaning you can only view them two at a time, which means they're small, and you have to fiddle with the magnification to see them optimally. Having them as single pages viewed in portrait format would have helped, but the pages are designed as two-page spreads, so that effect would have been lost. My advice is not to buy this for reasons I will go into, but if you want to buy it, do not buy it in ebook format.
I said above, "hopefully doing something for the environment" because there was nothing in this book to say what the purpose of bird counting is or how it actually benefits the environment or the birds. The original idea, from Frank Chapman in 1900 was that instead of going out shooting birds, which seemed to be something of an insane and barbaric tradition on Christmas Day (I wonder how many doves were slaughtered on Christmas Day by the good Christians with their guns?), he would call upon readers of his magazine to go out and do nothing more than count them, and report their results in to the magazine.
That's great, but if that's all it is: counting, then the logic is flawed. The people who went out counting were not necessarily the same people - and I would argue it's highly unlikely they were the same people - as those who were out shooting. And merely counting was doing nothing to save any birds.
Now you can argue that keeping a yearly tally of birds at least allows us to track their numbers over time, but this is precisely what the author has failed to argue in this book because she offers no justification whatsoever for counting the birds, and there needs to be one for all those children who will ask, as I would have as a child: how is this helping the birds?
Just knowing that, say, bird species X is in decline isn't going to do species X a damned bit of good unless action is taken on that knowledge - and assuming those numbers are reliable. But are they? There was no word on that, either. Nor does a wish to act do any good unless the government can be moved to put protections into place - and good luck with that with the present business-obsessed administration who are determinedly destroying environmental protections as fast as they can and outright lying about pollution and climate change.
This book was some twenty pages long and nowhere in it was any kind of word about exactly how this is helping, save for one tiny, brief, and rather vague paragraph on page fifteen. Now word on how the numbers translate to help or even to a plan to help. No word on what kind of help has been given over the last century. No word on whether it has worked. No word on species saved, if any. No word on how conservation has improved. Nothing.
This is unacceptable and unforgivable, because what it means is that this author is asking us to mindlessly go out and count birds - and that's it! Hey, I do, and you should do it too! That's not rescuing the environment, it's acting like a sheep with its attendant wooly thinking. Don't treat your readers like sheep. Treat them like intelligent human beings and give them solid reasons for asking them to do as you do. It's for this reason that I refuse to commend this book as a worthy read. It falls far too short of where it needed to be.