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Follow the Author
Hummingbird Nest: A Journal of Poems Hardcover – April 1, 2004
The Amazon Book Review
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From School Library Journal
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
- Publisher : Harcourt Children's Books; First Edition (April 1, 2004)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 48 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0152023259
- ISBN-13 : 978-0152023256
- Reading age : 6 - 9 years
- Lexile measure : NP
- Grade level : 2 - 3
- Item Weight : 12.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 7.75 x 0.5 x 10.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,945,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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George has expertly taken those emotions and woven them into this delightful collection of poems. In "Visitor" we are introduced to the small mother. She is nothing more than a "spark, a glint, / a glimpse of pixie tidbit." In the next poem, however, we see her bravado and determination in action. She becomes a "feathered missile streaking by," ordering the humans off her patio, out of her territory.
Soon two eggs are visible in the "cobweb ship" of a nest. Once hatched, the nestlings, "raisin black / an wrinkled," settle in. In "Flight Practice," George does a superb job at allowing the reader to visualize the drama taking place: "Four curled up feet grip / the top of the nest. / Two tiny motors / rev up for the wing test."
Moser is in top form here. His realistic, incredibly detailed watercolor paintings are small jewels in themselves.
The poems and illustrations combine wonderfully to allow readers the opportunity to vicariously witness nature up-close.
Reviewed by the Education Oasis Staff
There are 26 poems in this book, all told. At the beginning a single small bird launches itself at a family eating on their patio. It appears that the creature has claimed this area as its own and immediately sets about building a nest in a potted tree. After a short amount of time two eggs appear in the nest. The family carefully checks up on them when the mama bird is away. The chicks hatch and are fed by their mother. Then they grow over the course of 18-26 days. At the end of that time, one of the babies flies away without the family ever saying goodbye. The second bird has some false starts before it finally figures out how to fly, and (after a snack from mama) fly it does. From that time on, hummingbirds sip nectar from the family's feeder and the author says to herself in the Author's Note, "Were any of the fledglings that turned up at our feeder later that spring our hummingbirds? I like to think they were".
The book has the feel of realism to it, helped along by Moser's accurate artistic renderings. The poetry, for its part, is a kind of friendly free verse. All scientifically accurate. All tiny odes to greater hummingbird-dom. I was particularly fond of a poem entitled, "Spiders, Beware!" that cautions all arachnids that the hummingbirds are around and ready to steal their webbing. These poems are rather innocent and don't go in for witty metaphors or particularly original imagery. They're just gentle little pieces that contain words like, "this rainy evening / your quiet wings / smoothly pressed / as you patiently sit / gentle captain / of your cobweb ship". There's even a small hummingbird-ish haiku at the end (though for a superior hum-haiku, check out the one in Jack Prelutsky's, "If Not For the Cat"). At the end of the book is the Author's Note that tells the true story, some quick facts about hummingbirds, and a very nice bibliography of hummingbird resources for old and young readers.
It's really Barry Moser's art that lifts this little book from obscurity, though. If you haven't perused Moser's stunning, "In the Beginning" (with words by Virginia Hamilton) then I'm afraid you've a large gap in the creation-myth department of your brain. Moser's watercolors here are wonderful. In the picture where the hummingbird dive-bombs the family, we see an older woman dropping her breakfast spoon, a coffee cup already turned on its side, and a hand covering her face in what is unmistakably the beginning of a laugh. Moser's dog is mournful and his cat full of the languid grace of the species. There are changes in perspective, in distance, and in view. In this way, Moser creates what otherwise could have been a deathly dull series of illustrations.
Come to think of it, this whole enterprise could easily (in the hands of the less adept) have ended up as some kind of boring practice in nature poetry. Instead it captures a fascinating subject, those winged little paradoxes of the avian world, and displays for us all the wonder that she, the author, experienced once. There won't be a child in the world who doesn't yearn for a hummingbird nest of their own after paging through this light little book. Seriously consider pairing it with the equally lovely and aforementioned, "If Not For the Cat", for a detailed examination of the natural world through verse. A small but strong work.
The story is told via poetry and with some lovely drawings. There's also an explanation of how the book came about, as well as fun facts about hummingbirds.
Only trouble is that the poetry wasn't always that great, and varied in style (and perspectives). Also, I found myself having to piece things together more than I probably should have had to. It's still interesting and a sweet idea, but it could have been so much better.
Written as delightful poems, the story contains many teachable moments following "Anna" through the birth process, portraying the teetering and testing of the young ones' wings, proceeding on to the inevitable empty nest. It was hard to hold back tears as the wonder-filled story touches on the universal, relating to many cycles in our own lives.
The delicate watercolor drawings are beautiful in their own right, yet support and enhance the story in seemingly perfect harmony.
I heartily recommend this book to hummingbird lovers and children of all ages, who, caught up in the flow of the story, will absorb many hummingbird facts before they even know it.
Beth Kingsley Hawkins
Co-Editor, The Hummingbird Connection