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Doctor Bird: Three Lookin' Up Tales From Jamaica Hardcover – May 18, 1998

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 800L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel; 1st edition (May 18, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039922744X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399227448
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 8.7 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,553,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Doctor Bird is a rainbow-winged, streamer-tailed hummingbird that lives only in JamaicaAand is that West Indian island's beloved national bird. Here, in a trio of wordy folktales, a top-hatted Doctor Bird uses magical powers plus his own wisdom to teach other creatures important lessons. Working in her characteristic combination of black gesso and rich gouaches, Wolff (previously paired with Hausman for How Chipmunk Got Tiny Feet) features lush foliage and exotic lizards and monkeys in dark outline and deep, crepuscular colors. One page might vividly illustrate a scene from the story (e.g., Doctor Bird teaches Mongoose not to steal by subjecting her house to an onslaught of disturbances, ending in a snowstorm) while an inset on the facing page amplifies details (Mongoose pours her delicious hibiscus tea to sweeten up Doctor Bird). Each tale ends with the tag: "And if this story isn't true, let the keeper of heaven's door say so now." Yet the messages are muddy. Mongoose, for example, reverts to "the way she always was, is, and forever will be"; the only difference is that she now returns what she "borrows" whenever it snows. While the folksy rhythms of the sentences and occasional vernacular words add charm and authenticity ("he was going to hoo-doo all the people at the Guango party"), the text ambles and characterization is weak. Overall, the writing is not the equal of the intriguing, lively art. Ages 5-up.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-3-Three stories about a popular Jamaican folktale character. Doctor Bird, a beautiful hummingbird, displays optimism, wit, the ability to work magic, and a penchant for using rhymes and riddles to teach lessons as he tries to reform a thieving mongoose, encourages and comforts a homeless mouse, and shows an owl that it's important to be yourself. The tales have easy-to-follow action and morals that children will appreciate. A traditional ending is used for all three: "And if this story isn't true, let the keeper of heaven's door say so now." The inclusion of unfamiliar creatures such as Mr. Pocket Parrot, Miss Banana Quit, and Uncle Galliwasp, and references to vegetation, games, and other local practices provide regional flavor. The handsome full- and double-page paintings are done with black gesso and gouache. Because many of the animals wear hats and other bits of clothing, the illustrations are more cartoonlike than some of Wolff's other work, but they are charming and beautifully composed, with sprightly animals and lush images of the landscape and the seashore. The storytellers from whom the tales are drawn are named, but no details are given on individual stories. A great book for sharing, particularly for those who have roots in the Caribbean.
Marilyn Iarusso, New York Public Library
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Gerald Hausman is the author of more than 70 books. His live storytelling has been praised by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, History Channel, and the Bank Street College of Education. He and his wife have received numerous awards in the field of children's literature.

"As a writer I have often been called a scribe. This is because in the gathering of oral tales, I have always tried to get the story right. To capture the flavor, the region and the moral as the original storyteller gave it to me. The NYT Book Review called my collection of American Indian stories, Tunkashila 'an eloquent tribute to the first great storytellers of America.'"

In addition to his 22 years of story gathering and telling in New Mexico, Gerald also spent 13 summers on the island of Jamaica where he ran an informal writing school with his wife, Lorry. Together they collected Anansi stories, stories from and about the Kebra Nagast, and traditional West Indian ghost stories.

"I remember when History Channel filmed tales from my book "Duppy Talk". My best friend Roy was not an actor, but because of his handsome face he was cast as the man who was enchanted by a mermaid. When I saw him on film, I asked Roy how he was able to do the underwater scene and keep that look of astonishment when he saw the made-up mermaid smiling on the river bank. He told me, 'That look on my face comes from the fact I can't swim. I was very scared.'"

Gerald teaches writing workshops in various parts of the United States and is most recently the author of "The American Storybag" -- 40 years of story gathering on and off the road. He lives on a barrier island in Florida.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By jsorak on April 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This folktale is based on the positive thinking of a hummingbird, the national bird of Jamaica. In this story Doctor Bird, as he is called, changes the lives of three animals: Mongoose, Mouse and Owl. Without using dialect, the author enhances the rhythm of the Jamaican language by the conversational flow of the words. Mention is made of hibiscus tea, yellow yam and mango, all of which give the story a colourful local setting.
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By LT on March 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am from Jamaica and have always been fascinated by the lovely Doctor bird. Well-written and a treat for any age.
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