The Bottom Line
Children are naturally interested in the world around them, and that youthful curiosity comes alive in Tea With Lady Sapphire: Sharing the Love of Birds. Though a simple picture book, the gentle story of a grandmother and her grandchildren enjoying a treat and feeding winter birds does an admirable job of introducing backyard birding to young readers. Colorful photos, useful descriptions and the thrill of discovering new birds for the first time all combine to make this not only an enjoyable book to share, but an educational one as well.
- Stunning photos of 20 backyard bird species and other wildlife show the diversity of winter bird feeding.
- Introduces many basic birding concepts in easy, kid-friendly ways.
- Lacks a reference page of tips for feeding winter birds that would be useful for readers to create their own traditions similar to the story.
- Title: Tea With Lady Sapphire: Sharing the Love of Birds
- Authors: Carl R. Sams II & Jean Stoick
- Publisher: Carl R. Sams II Photography, Inc.
- Publication Date: June 2011
- Format: Hardcover / Children's Picture Book
- Page Count: 48
- ISBN: 978-0-9827625-1-6
- Price: $19.95
Review - Tea With Lady Sapphire: Sharing the Love of Birds
Introducing kids to birds is vital to ensure ongoing bird conservation initiatives and support for wildlife, and even very young children can be fascinated by their wild feathered friends. Tea With Lady Sapphire: Sharing the Love of Birds is a simple story of a grandmother's tradition with her grandchildren of feeding winter birds, and this charming picture book is ideal to share with young, future birders.
The childish curiosity and enthusiasm of Sweet Child and Little Squirt are infectious and simple but vivid descriptions such as "a perfect snow … a packing snow" help birders of all ages remember winter days when birds brought a snowy yard alive. And alive it is, as 20 different bird species visit the various feeders and feeding areas in this one winter backyard. Two pages of thumbnail photos at the end of the story review the birds that have visited, along with their common names. Species that make an appearance at this book's feeders include:
- American goldfinches
- Black-capped chickadees
- Blue jays
- Cedar waxwings
- Dark-eyed juncos
- Northern flickers
- Red-breasted nuthatches
- Wild turkeys
Of course, the namesake character – Lady Sapphire, a female pileated woodpecker – also visits, as does her mate, christened Mr. Succotash for "his handsome red mustache." That distinction between the male and female pileated woodpeckers introduces the concept of dimorphic plumage in birds, and other birding concepts briefly mentioned in the book include:
Even more advanced birding challenges, such as how to tell the difference between downy woodpeckers and hairy woodpeckers, are briefly touched upon. While no concept is fully explored as it would be for adult readers, the simple descriptions such as "look at the hairy's red cap. That's how you can tell it's a male. The ladies don't wear a red cap" are kid-friendly and ideal for young birders.
Another important part of the story – equally important for teaching young backyard birders – is the variety of foods included in the storyteller's backyard feedings stations. Suet, nuts, fruit, corn and Nyjer are all part of the buffet, and different birds choose different foods. This highlights the importance of providing a varied diet for backyard birds and emphasizes how more foods will attract more species of birds.
Sharing cookies, cocoa and tea while enjoying the birds that visit the feeders is a great tradition any parent or grandparent can start to introduce their children and grandchildren to the wonders of birds. Tea With Lady Sapphire can even help readers start such a tradition with the snickerdoodle cookie recipe included in the book. While no recipe for feeding the birds – no instructions for making feeders or customizing suet – is included, the act of making a snowman and decorating it so the birds can eat can be a creative and rewarding winter project for any backyard birder, young or old.
Tea With Lady Sapphire is a not-so-simple children's book dedicated "For those who protect wild places and care for our feathered friends." With the beauty of the book and its vital message and subtle tips about feeding wild birds in winter, every reader, no matter what their age, can take this story to heart and welcome birds to their backyard.