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Alison's Fishing Birds
Alison's Fishing Birds

Alison's Fishing Birds

By Roderick Haig-Brown, Illustrated by Sheryl McDougald, Foreword by Andrew Nikiforuk


48 Pages, 7.18 x 10.03

Formats: Cloth

Cloth, $21.95 (US $21.95)

Publication Date: March 2017

ISBN 9781987915198

Rights: US

Caitlin Press Inc. (Mar 2017)

Price: $21.95


Beautifully illustrated children's story about Canadian wildlife by famed Canadian conservationist and Governor General Award-winning author, Roderick Haig-Brown.First published as a limited edition in 1980 by Colophon Books, ALISON'S FISHING BIRDS by BC's acclaimed author and conservationist Roderick Haig-Brown is the story of a young girl's encounter with some of BC's most intriguing river birds. Alison's favourite bird, the Dipper, lives along the river by her house. She spends many hours watching the "fierce and splendid" bird as it fishes for dinner, "bob, bob, bobbing" as it skitters and dives below the surface, always emerging with a tiny fish. Farther up the river bank, Alison catches a glimpse of the Belted Kingfisher hovering above the water, just waiting patiently for the perfect moment to "drop like a stone, headfirst in the water" only to emerge a few seconds later with a tiny wiggling silver fish in its beak. Alison encounters many other birds on her adventures and, true to Haig-Brown's other stories, every bird, whether it is the Osprey, the Heron, or the Merganser, all have a lesson to share about their life and the natural world around them. For almost a century, Haig-Brown has been teaching children and adults alike to explore, learn, and respect our forests, oceans, and rivers. As one of Haig-Brown's lesser-known stories, ALISON'S FISHING BIRDS is a gem that is long overdue on the shelves of popular children's fiction. ALISON'S FISHING BIRDS is richly illustrated by acclaimed and talented artist Sheryl McDougald, and includes a preface by Valerie Haig-Brown.


"The gentle text invites re-reading, as the lessons provided on the natural world and its need for conservation are pondered […] Stunning drawings and paintings reveal aspects of the wildlife mentioned in the text and provide a beautiful extra facet. Combined with the pleasing dimensions and layout, the illustrations add to the physical attractiveness of the title […] this singular book has several layers of appeal as literary history, environmental delight, charming story for children and as an artistic pleasure." — Sandra O'Brien, The Canadian Children's Book Centre

"I'm confident that parents, grandparents, teachers, and anyone else with young children in their lives will find this a perfect book to read with them or to them. I must admit, I've already read it several times, all by myself, for the sheer pleasure of the stories and illustrations." — Sharon McInnes, Bird Canada

"… Of the rather short list of such pieces—in all my reading, really—Alison's Fishing Birds was my personal high point. I had never read it before (though possibly it was read to me) and I could not help being thoroughly charmed, both as an editor and a daughter." — Preface by Valerie Haig-Brown, editor

"Any engagement with wildlife—whether listening to the chatter of river otters, hunting grouse or watching a black bear denude an apple tree—restored human meaning and brought us back to the point of things: there is no end to wonder and joy when you care about a place. Alison's Fishing Birds passes that joy onto another generation" — Foreword by Andrew Nikiforuk, award-winning journalist and author

Author Biography

Roderick Haig-Brown is known as one of BC's most influential and knowledgeable conservationists and naturalists. He was the author of 28 books. In 1947, Haig-Brown won the inaugural Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children Award, recognizing his 1943 novel STARBUCK VALLEY WINTER. He won the award again in 1963 for THE WHALE PEOPLE. Haig-Brown was a visionary in his time and his work is increasingly more relevant today. Sheryl McDougald lives, rambles, paints, draws, photographs, photoshops, and otherwise explores the amazing visual buffet that is the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. When she is not busy bleaching found bones or picking up feathers, she works in her many sketch journals, which are also places to plan large-scale paintings. She was diagnosed with MS in 1996, so mobility issues play a part in her artistic practice. She lives in Roberts Creek and can often be found scootering around with a travel kit of art supplies in her basket. Andrew Nikiforuk is an award-winning Canadian journalist who has been writing about the oil and gas industry for more than two decades. He is the author of multiple non-fiction books, including Tar Sands, winner of the prestigious Rachel Carson Environment Book Award, Saboteurs, winner of Canada's Governor General's Literary Award for Nonfiction. He was one of the first journalists in North America to document the devastating effects of hydraulic fracturing on rural communities.