Have you read Kate Samworth's Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual?

Author-illustrator Kate Samworth dropped by to answer four questions and finish two of my sentences. Thank you, Kate! 

Please watch the book trailer before you read the interview. 

Mr. Schu: Author and teacher extraordinaire Donalyn Miller highly recommended Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual during a session at the Michigan Reading Association Annual Conference. As soon as I returned home from Michigan, I read it. It is unique, brilliant, disturbing, and a 2014 must-read. 

I read that it was inspired by a visit to Brazil. Please share that story with us. 

Kate Samworth: I speak Portuguese and love Brazilian music, so I took a trip to Brazil. I had intended to see a lot of the country, but once I discovered a national park called Chapada Diamantina (in Bahia), I decided to stay put. It was extremely beautiful and full of wildlife. The birds were noisy, abundant, and came in colors and shapes I’d never imagined. Once I returned to the States, I wanted to identify some of the birds that I had seen, and so began to read about them and the environmental challenges they face. Then I began to look more closely at the birds where I live and at how they are affected by human behavior.

Illustration credit: Kate Samworth
Mr. Schu: I’m thankful three-time Caldecott Medalist David Wiesner encouraged you to create a children’s book. Were you one of his students? 

Kate Samworth: I had the good fortune to take a class with David Wiesner while I was studying printmaking at the PA Academy of the Fine Arts. I had been working on the bird building concept for a few years and showed it to him in various stages. He liked the idea and encouraged me to see it through.

Mr. Schu: I automatically give a picture book extra bonus points if the case is different from the jacket.  A+++, Kate!

Kate Samworth: I was very happy that Clarion decided to print the case the way they did, and I’m glad you looked under the dust jacket! That was originally intended to be the endpapers, but was too overwhelming. There are references to some painters that I admire in the “photos,” such as figures and settings taken from John Singer Sargeant and Carolus-Duran.

Illustration credit: Kate Samworth
Mr. Schu: I wish I could visit the McGuffey Art Center between April 1 and April 27. What am I missing out on?

Kate Samworth: Original artwork from the book and sketches and color studies from the dummy will be shown at McGuffey Art Center in Charlottesville this month. Then the exhibit will move to Artisphere in Arlington, VA from May 7th to June 15th.

Please complete these sentence starters: 

Picture books are not just for children!

School libraries feed my imagination.

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 4/6 to 11:59 p.m. on 4/8. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

Borrow Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 


  1. I'm wowed. By this book and concept and artwork and everything! It's like nothing I've ever seen.


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