Sunday, December 11, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: About Hummingbirds

About Hummingbirds
written by Cathryn Sill; illustrated by John Sill
2011 (Peachtree Publishers)
Source: Orange County Public Library

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As you probably know, hummingbirds fly around at incredible speeds. Having been buzzed by these tiny territorial beasts, I know this first-hand. The problem with hummingbirds is you can't get a good look at them. This is one of the reasons why I really like About Hummingbirds. John Sill's artwork is amazing. You get to see the action that is normally too quick for human eyes and the colors are incredible. The man can flat out draw feathers! I especially liked the feet on the Booted Racquet-tail. They look like the shovels that kids use on the beach to dig sand. Cathryn Sill's text is sparse and informative which makes a perfect partner for the illustrations. An advanced first grader or a second grader can read the text, then focus on the picture to pull out several more details. The cherry on the sundae is the afterword. In the afterword, each of the 18 plates (pictures) in the main text is accompanied by a rich paragraph of information. I could see taking one of these plates and creating a circle map to review the facts about that particular hummingbird. You could also create a chart for older students and have them gather facts under headings such as anatomy, predators, and habitat. Full of interesting information and gorgeous artwork, About Hummingbirds would be a terrific addition to a unit on birds.

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