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Sonderbooks Book Review of

I Dreamed of Flying Like a Bird

My Adventures Photographing Wild Animals from a Helicopter

by Robert B. Haas


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I Dreamed of Flying Like a Bird

My Adventures Photographing Wild Animals from a Helicopter

by Robert B. Haas
Review posted September 8, 2011.
National Geographic, Washington, DC, 2010. 64 pages.
Starred Review

This book is a delight to look at. Robert Haas is an aerial photographer. In this book, he tells the story of getting his stunning images -- and he also includes the images.

He tells about his methods; it sounds much more difficult than I ever would have guessed. He usually flies with the door off the helicopter and not one, but two, safety harnesses. It's very cold up there with the door off, so he wears many layers of clothes.

In this book, he focuses on some images that have a story behind them, like the time he saw a herd of African buffalos being hunted by lions. Another time, he found a bear in Alaska just coming out of its den from a winter's hibernation. He also does amazing photography of sea creatures, and once the pilot almost lost control right over a large group of sharks.

My favorite image, though, is the one that goes with this description:

One of the most beautiful sights from the air is a large flock of flamingos moving around in shallow water. The flock forms one shape after another and leaves different patterns as it sweeps across the water. One time off the coast of Mexico, I came across a large flock of flamingos that changed its shape every few seconds, and I kept shooting and shooting for a very long time. And then, when I was just about to leave, I noticed something that was simply unbelievable -- the hundreds of flamingos in the flock had actually formed the shape of a flamingo! I was able to capture that shot, and it has become one of my best known photos.

I'm taking a class on the Caldecott Medal, and we have been discussing whether a photographer will ever win for the most distinguished picture book. I hope last year's committee gave this book consideration, since the images are truly stunning. This book will be enjoyed and marvelled over by children and adults alike.