By José Martí
This is one of the books my Cuban mother read to me in Spanish when I was little. Written in the nineteenth century, it blends poetry, science, history, folklore, and fiction. I especially loved hearing the sound of my mother’s voice when she read out loud in the passionate way of Latin American poetry recitations. Even now, in her mid-80s, she retains an excitement about books and nature. She lives in Los Angeles, where she plants milkweed and tends monarch butterflies.
Ages 10 and up | Publisher: Linkgua | ISBN-13: 978-8493343958
Written by Munro Leaf
My mother read this book to me after she learned English, and I read it to my children too. When I was little, my parents would leave me with a babysitter in Mexico, and go to the bullfights, where my father painted the matadors and horsemen. Both my parents are pacifists, and watching cruelty to animals was against their nature, but they were part of a generation of artists influenced by the bullfight paintings of Picasso.
Later, at home, I believe my mother loved the message of peace in The Story of Ferdinand. It was a message I enjoyed passing on to my children. Just picturing the cover of this book brings a little smile of satisfaction back into my mind.
Ages 3-5 | Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap | ISBN-13: 978-0448456942
Written by Dr. Seuss
This was one of my favorite books to read to my children. The vast array of imaginary types of fish is reminiscent of the biodiversity in real natural habitats. My son is a chef now, but he also knows how to create beautiful saltwater aquarium designs, with all sorts of amazing corals and fish. My daughter teaches English to adult international students, but she lives near the ocean and loves to poke around in tide pools and wildlife refuges. I’m not saying Dr. Seuss definitely influenced their interests, but, well . . . it could be true, at least a little bit . . . couldn’t it?
Ages 5-9 | Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers | ISBN-13: 978-0394800837
Written by Angela DiTerlizzi, Illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
My husband is an entomologist. He loves reading this book to our granddaughter, who is enthusiastic about insects, gardens, and any outdoor activity where she can get her hands dirty while learning tidbits of scientific information.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Beach Lane Book | ISBN-13: 978-1442458802
Written by Mercer Mayer
This is one of my favorite books to read to our granddaughter, just as it was one of favorites to read to my kids when they were little. Mayer’s Critters look funny and sound silly, but they’re incredibly believable portrayals of the inner workings of children’s minds.
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers | ISBN-13: 978-0307119483
About Margarita Engle
Margarita Engle is a Cuban American poet and novelist whose work has been published in many countries. Her books include The Poet Slave of Cuba, winner of the Pura Belpré Award for narrative and the Américas Award; The Surrender Tree, a Newbery Honor book; Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian, a Kirkus Best Book for Children; and The Lightning Dreamer, Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist, winner of the 2014 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Young Adult/Children’s Literature. Margarita lives in California, where she enjoys bird-watching and helping her husband with his volunteer work for wilderness search-and-rescue dog training programs. To learn more, and to download a free activity kit for THE SKY PAINTER, visit: www.margaritaengle.com.
Written by Margarita Engle; Illustrated by
Publisher’s Synopsis: Louis loves to watch birds. He takes care of injured birds and studies how they look and how they move. His father wants him to become an engineer, but Louis dreams of being a bird artist. To achieve this dream, he must practice, practice, practice. He learns from the art of John James Audubon. But as Louis grows up, he begins to draw and paint living, flying birds in their natural habitats.
Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1874–1927) is now known as the father of modern bird art. He traveled with many scientific expeditions all over the world. His best-known works—paintings for habitat exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History in New York—are still beloved by visitors today. His art helped to encourage wildlife conservation, inspiring people to celebrate and protect the world of wings.
Poems by Newbery Honor–winning author Margarita Engle and illustrations by Aliona Bereghici capture the life of Louis Fuertes and the deep sense of wonder that he felt when he painted the sky.
Ages 6-8 | Publisher: Two Lions | 2015 | ISBN-13: 978-1477826331
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Margarita Engle, author of The Sky Painter: Louis Fuertes, Bird Artist, selected these five family favorites. Discover more articles on The Children’s Book Review tagged with Books About Artists, Biographies, Books About Birds, and Margarita Engle.