A. Lifelong bird watchers and those who are baffled at the bird feeder will marvel equally at the new Sibley Guide to Birds (Knopf, $35.00). David Alien Sibley has been drawing and painting America’s birds—and preparing to create this volume—since he was seven. In it he shows every species found in the United States and Canada in all its varieties, including juvenile and nonbreeding plumages and in flight. The presentation, as beautiful as it is detailed and informative, sets a dazzling new standard for bird guides and thus for the appreciation of the avian wonders of our continent.
B. In an age of e-mail invitations and mass-produced “Come to Our Party” cards, it’s refreshing to recall the era between the Civil War and the Depression, when the elaborate flamboyance that has always surrounded Mardi Gras in New Orleans extended even to the cards that invited revelers to holiday balls. Henri I Schindler, a long-time collector, has recently published Mardi Gras Treasures: Invitations of the Golden Age (Pelican, $35.00), from which the picture at left is taken. Future volumes will P cover float designs, costume designs, and jewelry and krewe favors; postcard and notecard versions of the float designs are already available.
C. “No televisions, no radios, no cars, no dancing,” writes Laura Wilson in Hutterites of Montana (Yale University Press, $39.95) of the Protestant sect that has lived and farmed in communal settlements since emigrating to the Dakota Territory in the 187Os. The Hutterites even forbid photography, though they relented this time, allowing Wilson to take the black-and-white pictures that form the bulk of this book. The usual shots of bonneted women sewing and cooking are here, but jarring modern notes also creep in: a baby wearing a head kerchief, a long dress, and tiny sneakers; desserts made with Oreos and Jell-0; and children frolicking in front of vinyl-sided buildings that look for all the world like suburban tract housing.