This is my first review for the challenge at @LatinasInKidLit. For the month of January, I am reviewing, PARROTS OVER PUERTO RICO.
PARROTS OVER PUERTO RICO is a nonfiction picture book showcasing the beauty of Puerto Rico, an island which is a commonwealth to the United States of America, and its parrots’ population. Being from a Caribbean island, the beauty of the pictures reminded me of my home country and the beauty of small mass of lands surrounded by water. I loved this book.
I am fascinated with this island’s history. I think it’s because I’m from a small island. When you’re from the Caribbean, you tend to appreciate the natural simplicity of life. The oceans. Beaches. Birds. Foods. Festivals. And most of all the people. That’s why I read this book; not because it was receiving rave reviews (because those are subjective), but because it was nonfiction presented in a creative, non-boring way.
At first, I felt, it was very long for a picture book (2597 words). But being nonfiction, it can go all the way up to 3000 words. The book’s illustration was enough to keep me captivated. The various blues blended with green fluttered, flittered, and flew off the page and landed in a part of my brain that took me to a happy place. This was a great book.
About the story, Puerto Rico had thousands of parrots – blue and green – in the early part of its existence. The Taino people hunted the parrots and kept them as pets. (The Taino people were also found on my island, Jamaica. They were actually descendants from South America.) As I read this book, I realized the history of Puerto Rico is similar to the history of Jamaica and other Caribbean islands.
The islands had Native Indians living on the land and taking care of it. Then Christopher Columbus showed up. He took the land. He enslaved the people. The Spaniards claimed the land. The island was later inhabited by the Africans who were brought to the island to work as slaves. And history books credit Columbus as “discovering” the island.
(SIDEBAR: In the real world, we cannot walk into a house, take it over, and claim it. It is illegal unless you live in Texas and Florida, then you can claim “adverse possession.” )
WHAT MAKES THIS BOOK PERFECT FOR THE CLASSROOM?
The information and illustrations in this book makes this book perfect for the classroom. It’s ideal for a cross-curriculum integration – Math, Science, History/Social Science, Reading/Language Arts, and Art Education. I love how the author was able to deliver the history of the island in a creative way. The pace and the flow of the story allows even the reluctant reader not to lose focus. I also love how the author showed how the island planned on saving its birds’ paradise. When the islanders realized what was happening to the parrots, they came up with a plan to save them. The end of the book has photos, timelines, and sources for additional research.
I love that the illustrations are not like other books. I joked that the students get a chance to exercise their eyesight by turning the book upside down to take in the splendid illustrations.
This is an awesome book. It is amazing and I recommend it. I am blessed to be reading great books. If you like this book, then I recommend reading AFRICA IS MY HOME: A CHILD OF THE AMISTAD by Monica Edinger.
Author: Roth, Susan L.
Interest Level: Lower Grades
Book Level: 5.7
Word Count: 2597