Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Hummingbird Sings and Dances: Latin American Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes

I requested this book and CD to review because it contains a few songs about birds, and those are rather hard to find. As a bonus, the songs are from various Latin American countries and are in Spanish, with English translations.

All of the lyrics are provided in Spanish and English in the back of the book, along with definitions of less common words, like aji, a very hot chili pepper. A map outlines Central America and identifies the countries. Also, while the book includes a CD, it also includes a code to download MP3 files for those who prefer to access the music from a computer or MP3 player.

Only four of the songs nineteen songs relate to birds, although the art frequently includes birds:

  • Canciones del colibri/Songs of the Hummingbird
  • El gallito/The Little Rooster
  • Déjala que se vaya/Let Her Go  (about a dove)
  • Los pollitos/Little Chicks
Additional music selections, including Arroz con leche/Rice Pudding, Los esqueletos/Skeletons, and Rana Cucú/Cuckoo the Frog, make this a great choice for library and preschool storytime use. The music is lively and lyrics share fun vocabulary words like cinnamon and mango in Spanish and English. While not bird-related Los esqueletos/Skeletons teaches time as the skeletons eat at two, tumble down at four, and go for a ride at noon.

The pictures by Argentinian illustrator Mariana Ruiz Johnson are bright and folksy and Grupo Cántaro is a Mexican musical-vocal ensemble founded in 1979. 

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy from the publisher. I receive no compensation for reviewing the book.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

About Woodpeckers

Part of a series, this title looks at, well, woodpeckers. The text is simple, usually one or two sentences on a white background facing a large plate that features an illustration of an individual species. While the text is generalized, discussing basic characteristics common to most woodpeckers, seventeen of the eighteen plates look at a single type of woodpecker out of the more than two hundred species around the world. The eighteenth is a squirrel using a woodpeckers hole as its home.

The Afterword provides details, plate by plate, on specific birds. The watercolor illustrations are clear and detailed, showing features that might be harder to see in photographs, and include glimpses of the habitat. The size and length make this a great introduction for preschoolers and students through about second grade and may inspire them to look for those woodpeckers they can find in their area.

Northern flicker
(photo by J. Larson)

Pair this with Woodpeckers: Drilling Holes & Bagging Bugs by Sneed Collard for older readers. Also helpful for teachers and parents is the publisher's guide to the series, which offers some extension ideas to use with any title in the series. Other bird titles in the series explore birds in general, parrots, hummingbirds, and penguins.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy from the publisher. I receive no compensation for reviewing the book.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Magnificent Birds

Beautiful linocut illustrations of fourteen birds from around the world fill each page in Narisa Togo's Magnificent Birds. Text accompanies each double page spread to briefly describe the bird's attributes, diet, appearance, habitat, and special features.  In order of appearance, the included birds are the bald eagle, Andean flamingo, greater bird of paradise, red-crowned crane, common kingfisher, toco toucan, ruby-throated hummingbird, bar-tailed godwit, wandering albatross, Australian pelican, barn owl, emperor penguin, kakapo, and the peregrine falcon. With the exception of a couple that are widespread, each is labeled for the area of the world where it is found. No mention is made of the others in a species, like the flamingo or the crane, that can be found elsewhere. The book was originally published in Great Britain by Walker Studios and many online book retailers show the British cover (which features the red-crowned crane). Although the book is short, an index or bird list would be helpful.

The illustrations are richly detailed and include a glimpse of the habitat: forests, waterways, cliff faces, and gardens. Linocut is a printmaking technique that allows for a grainy texture, with subdued colors that give the illustrations an almost retro look. Because linoleum is easy to obtain and work with, linocut is often used with children and it would be a lot of fun for them to create and print their own local birds. Easy to follow instructions are readily available at sites like Art for Small Hands.

Although I think adults will appreciate the information and illustrations, the book is intended for readers in grades 5-9. I'll be donating this review copy to our local kid birding team.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy from the publisher. I receive no compensation for reviewing the book.