7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #358: Featuring Susan L. Roth

h1 November 24th, 2013 by jules

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.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

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?

13 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #358: Featuring Susan L. Roth”

  1. Parrots! Bright green parrots. Like fly around my house when the palm trees bear fruit. My neighborhood’s flock allegedly descended from 1920’s escapees from a nearby aviary. There are 13 species of wild parrots in California—all originally from the Amazon region, and all descendents of illegally smuggled birds. There’s even a Parrot Project at the Natural History Museum where folks are asked to report sightings. http://www.californiaparrotproject.org/report_sightings.html
    Thing about parrots… they are really, really noisy and really, really colorful. Can’t miss ‘em when thirty birds swoop out of the canyon and land in your palm tree, ha-ha!

    These illustrations capture their brightness and even manage to feel noisy. (!) And I love that tumultuous storm cloud collage. How cool to learn the history along with learning about the birds.

    Jules – I’m singing, “Do the right thing…” as I type. Congrats on mastering your difficult piano piece and getting both hands to cooperate. There’s nothing like “having it all come together” after working long and hard at a task, talent or instrument; [applause for you] recital or not.

    Speaking of practicing long and hard… I’ve missed kicking here for a couple of months while I was literally kicking high as I could manage, practicing with my old (we’re ancient for this line of activity) song girl squad from college. I’ve been using every free moment to exercise/dance, lose some weight, practice old routines and get back into dancing shape for our reunion… which was great fun. We did pretty well out there on the halftime football field. http://public.fotki.com/7475Dollies/74-75-dollie-routin/

    My kicks (over a few months):
    1. nostalgia: old photographs, telling those “remember when” stories with friends who actually do.
    2. being old enough to both afford and appreciate a nice glass of wine while doing so. : – )
    3. college & high school reunions (a week apart) were sweet. Everyone grew up to be very nice.
    4. getting into better shape (I love writing, but sitting at my desk isn’t much of a cardio workout.)
    5. immersion in music, music, music.
    6. practicing, rehearsing, improving.
    7. dancing once again.

    Nice to be back at 7-Imp. Missed it/y’all. Have a great week kickers.

    P.S. Saw “Catching Fire” tonight. Pretty darn good. Really liked Effie/Elizabeth Banks.

  2. Wow — I’ll be seeing that waterfall image in my mind for days. Maravilloso!

    No new poems this week, but I do have 4 kicks:
    1. Reading The Sea at Truro: Poems by Nancy Willard
    2. Playing chess
    3. Listening to Robert Plant’s solo albums
    4. Writing my first Poetry at Play blog post since August, about writing for “bad” readers; check it out:

  3. Good Morning!
    The parrot book looks beautiful! I want to reach right in and touch it.
    I have a fear of indoor birds but not of outdoor birds which we have plenty of here on the Cape. I think it might be some ancient instinct that knows they should be flying free.
    Jules- Good for you with the piano lessons. I’m so glad your brain didn’t crack. I often feel that way learning new things these days but somehow after I learn it my brain actually feels stronger.
    Denise! That video is awesome. I am truly impressed. I always have a hard time group dancing. I always want to go freestyle 🙂

    1. The #1 kick for me this week is that I bit the bullet and bought my ticket to the Illustration Conference (ICON8) in Portland next year. I am thrilled and a little scared but in a good way.
    2. I opened an Etsy shop. I guess it was inevitable. https://www.etsy.com/shop/atlanticmo
    3. I also wrote a blog post about other ways to support me if you don’t want to shop. http://moiraswiatkowski.com/2013/11/18/for-love-or-money/
    4. Today I’m going to go see some family to celebrate the life of my Italian grandmother (even though she was really my cousins’ grandmother). She fed us skinny Irish kids well on Christmas Eve since before I can remember.
    5. My sister is making homemade pierogies for Thanksgiving.
    6. Road trip! Rented minivan full of kids, husband, brother, sister-in-law headed to Maryland.
    7. I am Thankful for Seven Imp.

    Happy Thanksgiving All!

  4. My Poetry at Play link: http://poetryatplay.org/2013/11/22/food-for-thought-writing-for-bad-readers/

    Piano lessons, immersion in music, road trips — I’m envious of all you!

  5. Good morning, Imps! Happy Sunday! I hope you all enjoy the approaching holidays.

    Parrots Over Puerto Rico sounds and looks lovely.

    Jules: I hope she had a lot of fun at the recital! They can be stressful; I hope she’s finding the FUN instead of the worry. I bet you can plunk out that piano line from the song you posted. I toast your coffee cup with my cocoa mug.

    Denise: Congrats to the song girls! Oh, that looks like fun. DANCE ON!

    Steven: Chess is awesome.

    Moira: Kudos and good luck with the Etsy shop. Have fun at the conference and have fun on the road trip.

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) My next gig starts this week
    2) Working with young playwrights
    3) …one of which had a full cast reading that went wonderfully
    4) The Tenth Doctor
    5) Numerical palindromes
    6) Answers
    7) Breathing

  6. DENISE! That was so fun to watch. And maybe the hug at the end made me misty-eyed. Whatever. I’m a SAP. … That had to be so much fun. Thanks for sharing the link. And congrats on getting in shape, ’cause it’s gotta feel good, too. Also, I love the sentence “Everyone grew up to be very nice.”

    Steven, I wish I could have linked to much larger versions of the illustrations so that you could see that beautiful waterfall in even greater detail. (The night before a post is NOT the time to realize that you want to ask the nice pub who sent the images for even bigger versions. Still, I’m grateful to show any here.) … Thanks for the link, which I’ll read when I get my work done.

    Moira: Yes, this is all good for our brains. … Thanks for the links, too! And congrats on biting the bullet! Thrilling but scary, I’m sure. Oh, wait. You already said that. Safe travels on the road trip and have a great Thanksgiving.

    Little Willow: She did enjoy the recital. If she ever finds them stressful, I say she doesn’t have to do them! Break a leg with your gig this week, and those lucky young playwrights to get to work with you …

  7. Greetings from Silver Falls, OR. This is a fly by, Internet is shaky. I love the green parrots, am thinking that took a long time to do those birds. My kicks 1-7 is being at this writing conference. Happy Thanksgiving.

  8. Enjoy the conference (and all the writing), Jone!

  9. Hi Jules and Imps!
    Ah the beauty of this book – the color – such color. I.must.have.it.
    Great kicks everyone, Jules – loved the song, would still be singing it except I’m breathless from watching the preview for the newest Hunger Games film. Holy Moly!

    My Kicks this week:
    1. unexpected solo/duet opportunity with my choir that went really well.
    2. these snowflake earrings: https://www.etsy.com/listing/165021766/sterling-silver-snowflakes-and-fresh?ref=shop_home_feat
    3. Reading Mama Panya’s Pancakes to my Little’s first grade class (I’m their volunteer librarian) as their Thanksgiving story of generosity and hospitality.
    4. Elisa Kleven (yes still!) So enjoying her new book this week after meeting her last weekend. And we are very much enjoying poring over all the beautiful pictures she drew for us as she patiently signed every one of our books.
    5. Almost Thanksgiving – my favorite American holiday.
    6. Our Tiny, Miss Chumble Bumble, turned 9 months this week. We are in complete limbo and bio mom seems to be resurfacing somehow, but we are enjoying our life with her every day.

    Happy Thanksgiving All!!!

  10. This book looks beautiful and sounds fascinating!

    Congrats on the piano progress, Jules. I think I’ve said before that I find it inspiring that you’re making time to learn something new like this!

    Denise, how cool you have random parrots near you (assuming they aren’t displacing anything native)! In London there are wild parrots descended from pets too. Here we have lots of noisy native parrots of various sizes and colours – and I agree the collage captures their movement of parakeet sized ones!.

    Hope the road trip went well, Moira!

    Allison I can’t believe your Tiny is 9 months!! Glad you are enjoying her – and I bet she is enjoying you too.

    1. We got around to cutting down a bamboo clump that was towering over the house and splitting open its planter box (with thanks to our brother in law with his own chainsaw!)
    2. A new lime tree planted in place of a horrible old plant that looked ugly & never grew
    3. Yesterday we went to a great exhibition from the National Museum of Kabul – interesting and attractive historical artefacts!
    4. We remembered we had a gift accommodation voucher to use, so stayed in the city for the night
    5. Room service dinner with a movie (and we watched the whole thing in one go!)
    6. An early morning walk next to the river was a nice change of scene. With the pram I didn’t really match the trendy inner-city joggers or lycra-clad cyclists though!
    7. Our baby is laughing more and more, including a random moment where he lauged at a lift full of strangers, which of course charmed them all (rather than making them feel judged for their clothes, which is what would have happened if I had laughed at them all).

  11. Hi Emmaco, I popped back around to see if there were other comments and enjoyed yours so much. I have laughed OUT LOUD at your number 7 – delightful that the baby is laughing, your take on the lift full of tense folks – hilarious!
    Congrats on the lime tree too – we love ours.

  12. Happy birthday to your Tiny, Allison! Also those students are lucky that you’re reading to them.

    Emmaco, you saw an entire movie and with a baby still so young! SCORE. Also, your last kick is making me laugh.

  13. EVERYTHING Susan does is superb! Texture, color, shape, expression, and history all sewn together to weave a wondrous story! This is my first choice to win the Caldecott prize.
    Douglas Florian

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