Oct 182022
Review: The Boy Who Loved Birds – Salim Ali
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Book Title: The Boy who loved Birds – Salim Ali (Dreamers series)

Author and Illustrator: Lavanya Karthik 

Publisher: Duckbill (Penguin Random House India)

Type: Paperback

Pages: 48

Recommended Age: 6-9 years​ (the publisher recommends this series for 7 years+)

My 5 year old is an avid bird watcher, and when he is sitting in his grandparents garden, he likes to keep asking his grandmother “Which bird is that? Who does this feather belong to?”

His curiosity and focus on details, makes me google but his grandmother instantly takes out her trusted ‘The book of Indian Birds’ by ​Dr. ​Salim Ali, and finds the bird faster than Google! So, Neil (my 5 yr old) was no stranger to ​Dr. ​Salim Ali when I showed him this book, and was really excited to read about him. 

​We all know Dr. Salim Ali as the Birdman of India, the one who single handedly popularised ornithology in India. The book, a part of the ‘Dreamers Series’, tells us about what led to that passion.  For young ‘Saloo’, birds were only something to be hunted, but when he happened to hunt a bird he couldn’t identify, it became a mystery that puzzled him. He knew where he could find answers – at the Bombay Natural History Society. But it was the British era, would he find the strength to travel across town, face the stern Englishmen and find the answers to the mystery of the bird?

When you flip through the book, the first thing that you notice are the wonderful illustrations, done only in black, white and green, using Mughal era art. My son has gone through the book again and again looking at the pictures of the birds! The beauty of the book lies in its use of simple language to convey the powerful and important concepts of being curious, following your passion and being fearless. The text is engaging and gripping, instead of being preachy, which kept my son hooked onto the book till the end.

“Saloo’s heart soars, then falls. For the Empire that holds his land in its cruel grip cares little for curious Indian boys. Dare he take his questions to its door?”

The book also brought about an appreciation for the comforts we currently have, and the hard work that ornithologists like Dr Salim Ali have done, because my 5 yr old asked me, “Mumma, why didn’t Saloo just google the bird?”. This gave me the perfect opportunity to explain to him how different those times were, and how much “Saloo”, fueled by his curiosity and passion, has made it easier for us to identify that “Grey Hornbill” that we saw in the garden!

Impactful biographies are those where the child feels that the person who they are reading about has made a difference in some way to their life, and this book is able to do that very well. An absolute must read to inspire children to follow their passion and dreams. 

You can find the rest of the books from the Dreamers series here. There is a new boxset of 10!
Dreamers: Delightfully Illustrated Short Biographies | Boxset of 10 inspirational Indian men and women who changed the world | Perfect for 7+ years

We have other reviews of books in the Dreamer Series which might interest you:
The Girl Who Was A Forest – Janaki Ammal
The Boys Who Created Malgudi – R. K. Narayan and R. K. Laxman
The Girl Who Loved To Sing – Teejan Bai 

NEW RELEASE: The Boy Who Built a Secret Garden: Nek Chand . Inside pages have been shared here in our fb group: It tells us the story of Nek Chand, the person who built Rock garden, and his inspiration behind it. Having lost everything in the partition, he decides to rebuild a place of joy, peace, from just waste! An excellent introduction to human resilience and creativity, along with providing a brief introduction to partition and how it impacted families like us.

Disclaimer: We are proud to be part of the #kbcReviewerSquad and received this review copy from the publisher.

If you are a bird lover who enjoyed this review and wish to buy the book from Amazon (kbc affiliate link),


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