Townsend's warbler

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9780060218744: Townsend's warbler

An account of the 1834 cross-continental journey of naturalist John Townsend and his many discoveries, including the warbler that bears his name.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

In a slim volume whose understated, elegant appearance recalls his Newbery winner (Joyful Noise, 1988), Fleischman recounts the journey of John Kirk Townsend, who left Philadelphia in 1834 to follow the Oregon Trail with fellow-naturalist Thomas Nuttall; and--in alternating vignettes--we see the migration of the warblers that Townsend eventually spotted the next spring. As is still the custom, Townsend shot the first warbler he saw as a specimen; later, Nuttall gave the species his name. Fleischman's telling is clear, graceful, and equipped with a fair number of authentic details, but it lacks the zest that makes Freedman's account of a similar journey so compelling (Indian Winter, p. 464). The problem is partly with the supporting material. The endpaper maps (of the birds' journey, and the men's) are fine, and the small b&w reproductions lend a pleasing 19th-century look--but there's no clue that, e.g., that a 3 1/2'' reproduction of a Bierstadt picture of the Rockies represents an enormous painting. Worse is the absence of source notes or bibliography, not just to prove authenticity but to suggest where information like this is found (again, cf. Freedman). How the bird got its name is interesting and exemplary; the narrative structure is a worthy experiment; but the story--like Townsend's specimen--lost its vitality along the way to being memorialized. (Nonfiction. 8+) -- Copyright 1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

From the era of America's westward expansion two migratory accounts entwine--men on horseback and birds on wing. In the spring of 1834, John Townsend and Thomas Nuttall leave Philadelphia determined to be the first naturalists to cross the entire U.S. Simultaneously, flocks of an unnamed bird abandon their native Central America for northern breeding grounds and a fateful rendezvous with the naturalists. Fleischman's exceptional sense of counterpoint plays not so much in his prose but in the story's textures. Events and sensibilities of the two migrations rise and fall like the land and the air currents they ride--exuberant first sightings of exotic birds and unfamiliar plants are interspersed with the ravages of weather, Indian war parties and starvation; the hardship and risk as man pushes through the wilds is crowned by a tiny bird's similar effort. Fleischman's biographical, mostly undramatic prose presents a foil for the fresh, immediate words of Townsend's own diary. Black-and-white paintings of the era draw readers into the strangeness of the new land, helping them share Townsend's "ecstasy--when a specimen such as he has never before seen meets his eye." Yet this is a quiet ecstasy that may be lost on younger readers. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Fleischman, Paul
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