Waiheke Weekender reviews Sylvia and the Birds


‘Hailed as a ‘part graphic biography, part practical guide to protecting our bird wildlife’, this engrossing book is filled with factoids – including the history, behaviour and ecology of one very rare bird, 85-year-old Sylvia Durrant, who has helped over 140,000 sick, injured and lost birds during her lifetime.

‘Like many of her fluffy charges, Sylvia had a difficult start in life. She was born during the Great Depression, and made a ward of the state along with her brothers and sister. Her life story is told in ‘graphic non-fiction’ style, in illustrations by the great Sarah Laing added to photographs from her own scrapbook.

‘As well as all the natural history, children will be engrossed by this intimate chunk of New Zealand social history, told from the point of view of a person who was young during some of the most difficult years of the last century.

‘But this is only part of a book made with so much relish, detail and love. With its activities and ‘how-tos’ (e.g: ‘Can you match the baby birds to the adults?)’ joyful and comic illustrations, the story of ‘The Bird Lady’ and  mātauranga Māori insights, this is a  special book for anyone who cares about the birdlife of Aotearoa.’

— Jenny Nicholls