Roth, Susan & Trumbore, Cindy. Parrots over Puerto Rico. Lee & Low, 2013. $19.95, 48 pages.
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“Iguaca, igauca,” call the beautiful green and blue parrots of Puerto Rico. This is their survival story.
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,
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.
- 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
- 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.