Book #170: Parrots Over Puerto Rico

parrots over puerto rico -- coverWhen Ray saw this book, he mentioned right away that it reminded him of King for a Day.  Both books are created using collage illustrations, which provides textured detail you don’t find in most picture books elsewhere.  You can see why any child would note the similarities.  Click to enlarge the image from King for a Day, and then click the following image from Parrots Over Puerto Rico.  Obviously the subject matter is quite different, but it’s interesting to see how two talented artists handle a similar medium.

King for a Day -- rooftop

parrots over puerto rico -- thatched roofs

Parrots over Puerto Rico is about the preservation of the Puerto Rican parrot, which originally thrived in the hundreds of thousands in ancient times only to be driven to near extinction in the 1960s. According to the text, by 1967 there were a mere 24 parrots left. This book is about how the governments of both the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico combined efforts to create a recovery program that would eventually bring back a sustainable number of these rare parrots to the area.

The book is filled with amazing illustrations and a long, detailed account of the history of obstacles that impeded the growth of the parrot population.  Wars, conquests, rainforest devastation, invasion of foreign animals — all contributed to the dwindling population. There’s a fascinating section in the book where the authors talk about how Puerto Rican parrots were trained to hide from predatory hawks flying overhead. The end of the book contains numerous photos of the actual birds so children can see how large scale an operation the recovery effort continues to be.  The book ends with a notable quote from Ricardo Valentin de la Rosa, manager of an aviary, who comments, “I have dedicated my life to saving these extraordinary creatures, which are profoundly emotive, very independent, and a true nightmare to breed in captivity.”

Parrots Over Puerto Rico won the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award this year.  ABZ

parrots over puerto rico -- flying


parrots over puerto rico -- in the field

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