Those of you who follow the wonderful blog Calling Caldecott over at the Horn Book site will recognize today’s book, since they recently posted about it. In fact, I first read about it over there and felt inspired to feature it here.
Written by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore and illustrated by Roth, Parrots Over Puerto Rico (LEE & LOW, September 2013) is an unusual book in that it serves as both a history of the island of Puerto Rico, as well as a history of the Puerto Rican parrot. This vertically-oriented book—and that’s the cover above, text-less and all—tells how they “lived on this island for millions of years, and then they nearly vanished from the earth forever.” The authors go back as far as 5000 BCE to document the first people on the island and those people, the Taínos in 800 CE, who named the parrrots iguaca after the cries the creatures make. As the authors continue to lay out with great clarity the history of the island and those who came to settle there, they highlight the threats the birds have faced over the years, including red-tailed hawks, black rats from settlers’ ships, honeybees, deforestation, hunters and trappers, birds called pearly-eyed thrashers, and more. By 1967, well after the island became a territory of the United States, only twenty-four parrots lived in El Yunque, a national forest in northeastern Puerto Rico:
Puerto Ricans looked up and saw that their iguacas were almost gone. People had nearly caused the parrots to become extinct. Now people started to help the parrots stay alive.
The rest of the book documents those impressive efforts on behalf of the U.S government and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, who worked together to create the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program.
The writing here is tight (and we’re even provided unobtrusive pronunciation tips, as we read along); it’s a well-designed book; the back matter (an afterword, a list of important dates in Puerto Rican history and the parrots’ history, and the authors’ sources) is accessible and informative; and Roth’s paper-and-fabric collages are simply beautiful. Textured and pulsing with life and movement, she gives us a feast for the eyes here. These are spreads to pore over, layered and detailed. Here are some below — so that I can let the art speak for itself. (I do wish these images were bigger so that you could see the sublime details of the collages more easily, but I’ll take what I can get! You can also click here, here, and here to see them a bit sharper, though they’re smaller.)
PARROTS OVER PUERTO RICO. Copyright © 2013 by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Susan L. Roth. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, LEE & LOW BOOKS, New York.
Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.
1) This song by Ages and Ages will, honest to goodness, have you humming (or, if you’re Little Willow, singing) the rest of the day:
Go ahead. Sing. Sing loudly.
2) My youngest had her first-ever piano recital.
3) I’m still taking lessons myself and learned a really hard (for a beginner) song. Whew. My 41-year-old brain didn’t crack in half, as I feared it might. (AND my left hand did one thing, while my right did another. IT WORKED.)
4) I don’t have to participate in a recital.
5) I’m always glad that we have small, independent publishers like LEE & LOW, whose explicit goal is to produce books about diversity.
5½) I finally saw this documentary and really enjoyed it:
6) My co-author, who just rolls up her sleeves to get the job done when it needs to get done.
7) Speaking of work, I’ve got some last-minute work on our book to do now, so this last kick is good, strong coffee.
Ah. Except somebody put some half-in-half in that poor drink.
What are YOUR kicks this week?