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Children's Nonfiction Birds

Sparrow, Eagle, Penguin, and Seagull

What Is a Bird?

by (author) Brian P. Cleary

illustrated by Martin Goneau

Lerner Publishing Group
Initial publish date
Aug 2012
Birds, Zoology, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2012
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Out of print

This edition is not currently available in bookstores. Check your local library or search for used copies at Abebooks.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 5 to 9
  • Grade: k to 3
  • Reading age: 12 to 14


What is a bird? Parrots, bluebirds, ostriches, and many other creatures are all birds!

About the authors

Brian P. Cleary is an American humorist, poet, and author. He is best known for his books written for grade-school children that explore grammar, math and poetry in humorous ways. In his role in the digital division of American Greetings, he's put words in the mouths of Dolly Parton, Christina Aguilera, William Shatner, Meghan Trainor and more. The multi-million selling author has performed poetry workshops in 500 elementary schools across the county. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

Brian P. Cleary's profile page

Martin Goneau has been working as a professional illustrator since 1997. Most of his work is dedicated to children's books and other educational publications. He lives in Trois-Rivières, Québec.

Martin Goneau's profile page


  • Winner, Science Books & Films Best Books

Editorial Reviews

"Writing books for young readers is a challenging endeavor. Accuracy is critical and so is readability. AuthorBrian Cleary has created a book that not only is accurate and readable but the sentences on each page rhyme.Youngsters are sure to enjoy the book and so will their parents, older siblings and teachers. The book deals with the characteristics of birds. The two most important features are feathers and bills or beaks. Feathers provide insulation and camouflage. Variations in beaks allow different types of birds to specialize in the food they eat. Cleary next discusses where birds are found. Of course the answer to this is 'anywhere.' This is what makes birds so interesting; readers of any age are familiar with them. The book then goes on to describe the many traits shared by most birds including, wings and eggs. The illustrations are engaging. There is a useful summary page and an especially helpful website that provides moms, dads and teachers with more information about birds. The book is fun to read and will surely excite its readers to learn more about birds and even go outside to look for some. This book should be on the shelves of any library frequented by young readers." --Science Books & Films


"Those CATegorical felines are back. This time they turn their attention to the characteristics of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, insects, and fish. The energetic rhyming text and zany cartoon illustrations will captivate students and make it fun to learn about what makes each group distinctive. Goneau's cartoon creatures nicely complement the facts that Cleary imparts in his rhythmic narrative, and in several cases, labels are included in the illustrations to reinforce a point. Each volume concludes with two pages summarizing the key characteristics of the animal class under discussion. Solid additions to the series." --School Library Journal, Series Made Simple


"In clever, if sometimes strained rhyme—'Every type of bird breathes air. / They all have just two legs. / Their forearms are their wings, and baby birds are born from eggs'—Cleary nests a clutch of simple facts. There's info about types of birds, distinctive avian physical features, and the multiple functions of feathers, all illustrated in broadly comical cartoon scenes: a museum exhibit on bird anatomy; views of a pigeon with a roll of toilet paper under one wing, perched atop a park statue; and a peacock flirting with hens in a bar. Cleary caps this entry in the Animal Groups Are CATegorical series with a summary review, and he invites readers to visit his website for additional science quizzes and games (the publisher also offers a downloadable teacher's guide, though registration is required). Funny, factual, and at times even a little edgy, this offers the unconventional for younger children trying to understand the animal world."—Booklist


"The Categorical cats are back again, ready to explore animal classification in Brian P. Cleary's new series. Brief, but interesting discussion follows, moving the reader from page to page until they are asked to recall what they have learned. Brightly colored cartoons provide comic relief as they extend the story. An endnote indicates a website for additional activities and games. The presentation is so much fun that readers are unaware of how much they are actually learning as they study traits animals have in common and come to the understanding that they are classified because of these traits."—Library Media Connection


Other titles by Brian P. Cleary

Other titles by Martin Goneau