Parrots over Puerto Rico by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore

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Roth, Susan & Trumbore, Cindy.  Parrots over Puerto Rico.  Lee & Low, 2013.  $19.95, 48 pages.

Link to Author’s Website:

Links to Interviews with Author:

Links to Reviews Available Online:

Reader’s Annotation:
“Iguaca, igauca,” call the beautiful green and blue parrots of Puerto Rico.  This is their survival story.

Summary:

The story of the blue and green beauties of Puerto Rico starts even before the Tainos arrived and gave the parrots their name after their call.  As the Spaniards, African slaves, Boricuans came to Puerto Rico to make their homes, the parrots continued to thrive.  But then came invasive species like the black rats and honeybees that started to eat the parrots eggs and swarm their nests.  Next, forests were cut down, and the parrots lost their homes.  Finally, in 1968 the US and Puerto Rican governments worked together to establish a conservation effort which included placement in an aviary, a breeding program, and even a training program to teach the parrots how to avoid hawks.  Slowly, the Puerto Rican parrots have been reintroduced into the wild.  An afterword about the parrots and the recovery program as well as importsnt dates and the author’s sources follows the narratuve,

Evaluation:

Susan Roth and Cindy Trumbore’s telling of the Puerto Rican parrot is a familiar endangered species story.  The beauty of their story is in the language they use and the amazing collages that adorn each page.  The narrative has a lyrical style, incorporating the rhythmic iguaca, iguaca of the parrots call.  Iguaga is actually the parrot’s name.  The parrot’s story is compelling because of all the challenges they have faced.  The conservation effort is also compelling because of how far scientists have gone to bring back these beautiful creatures (imagine training the parrots using protective leather jackets!).  The physical formatting of the book also sets it apart from others, in the calendar style orientation of each page, so that one hold the book on its side to see the full spread of the pages.  This orientation is especially effective with the fabric and paper collages of parrots soaring, or scientists climbing trees, or  the waterfall flowing.

Rating Scale:

  • Popularity:1 – Would sit on shelves unread; 2 – May see the light of day as an assigned reading; 3 – Interesting to readers, may need marketing; 4 – Very appealing read, ; 5 – Need multiple copies, because it would always be checked out!
  • Quality: 1 – How was this book ever published?; 2 – Poor literary quality; 3 – Average literary quality, nothing stands out as exceptional; 4 – Overall high quality literary quality, with certain areas of exceptional literary quality; 5 – Well-crafted of the highest literary quality
  • Popularity: 3
  • Quality: 4

Genre and Subgenre:  nonfiction, didactic

Appeal Factors:  fabric and paper collages, page formatting, endangered animals, Puerto Rico, conservation efforts

Readalike Titles or Authors:

  • Alex the Parrot by Stephanie Spinner
  • Mama Built a Little Nest by Steve Jenkins
  • Parrots by Ruth Bjorklund

Awards Won and Book Lists:

  • 2014 Robert F. Siebert Informational Book Medal
  • 2014 Notable Children’s Book

Booktalking Ideas:

  • History of nation and parrot population
  • Invasive species and deforestation
  • Conservation efforts with the training

Book Discussion Questions or Ideas:

  • Why do people want to save the Puerto Rican parrot?
  • How can you help raise awareness  about the parrots’ plight?
  • What is the most amazing part of the parrots’ story?

Why I Chose This:

This title was appealing to me because of the gorgeous pictures that accompanied each page.  The fabric and paper collages were absolutely stunning!  The detail and the fun and playful positioning of the parrots were captivating.  I also enjoyed the different formatting of the book.

Can We Save the Tiger? by Martin Jenkins

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Jenkins, Martin.  Can We Save the Tiger? Candlewick Press, 2011.  $16.99, 56 pages.

Link to Author’s Website:  http://www.lovereading4kids.co.uk/author/3057/Martin-Jenkins.html

Links to Reviews Available Online:

Reader’s Annotation:  What we can do to prevent the mighty tiger from going the way of the dodo, the great auk, and the marsupial wolf.

Summary:

Starting with an explanation of what it is to be extinct, Martin Jenkin’s tells the story of what it means to be endangered and how it can lead to extinction.  He uses specific animals to illustrate different points, such as how the tiger is endangered because of the threat they may pose to humans or that they require more land that is rapidly shrinking.  He uses the partula snail to describe the problems with introducing invasive species, the vulture to explain the effect that human decisions and choices have on their surrounding eco-systems, and the success and challenges of protecting endangered species such as the American bison and the kakapos.  Interspersed throughout the narrative are pictures of the endangered animals accompanied by facts and statistics about them.  He challenges readers that although the task may seem daunting, it is a worthy cause to fight for these amazing creatures before it is too late.

Evaluation:

This nonfiction piece is an enlightening text on the plight of endangered animals.  Written in narrative, Jenkins explains different reasons why animals become endangered and anchors each reason to an endangered animal.  He uses “we” to include himself and the reader as the agents of change, as those called to action to do something for the endangered animals.  His treatment of the subject is not to vilify human actions, but instead to educate about how every human action has a consequence on the animal world that shares the same space.  The language used is accessible for readers, as terms are explained, and Jenkins keeps a more conversational tone than didactic.  He also uses different sized fonts to emphasize his points. The illustrations vary between strategically placed simple black and white pencil drawings and more elaborate oil paintings of the animals.  The endangered species are highlighted because of the fact that the illustrations are only of animals, not their habitats  or other scenes.

Rating Scale:

  • Popularity:1 – Would sit on shelves unread; 2 – May see the light of day as an assigned reading; 3 – Interesting to readers, may need marketing; 4 – Very appealing read, ; 5 – Need multiple copies, because it would always be checked out!
  • Quality: 1 – How was this book ever published?; 2 – Poor literary quality; 3 – Average literary quality, nothing stands out as exceptional; 4 – Overall high quality literary quality, with certain areas of exceptional literary quality; 5 – Well-crafted of the highest literary quality
  • Popularity: 3
  • Quality: 3

Genre and Subgenre: nonfiction, didactic

Appeal Factors:  endangered animals, illustrations, narrative style

Readalike Titles or Authors:

  • Let’s Save the Animals by Frances Barry
  • Almost Gone by Steve Jenkins
  • Saving Birds: Heroes around the World by Pete Salmansohn

Awards Won and Book Lists:

  • 2012 Notable Children’s Books
  • 2011 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, Nonfiction

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Extinct animals
  • How the vulture has been poisoned
  • Comeback story of the American bison

Book Discussion Questions or Ideas:

  • What are ways that you can raise awareness about endangered animals?
  • What things can you do to help save endangered animals?
  • Pick an organization from the list of resources at the end to contact.  What information could you ask for?

Why I Chose This:

I chose this book because it was a nonfiction picture book. I enjoyed the way it gave facts about endangered animals in a narrative format.  The pictures were also beautiful and the simple facts about the animals were as striking as the illustrations themselves.