LEE & LOW BOOKS celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and to recognize how far the company has come, we are featuring one title a week to see how it is being used in classrooms today as well, as hear from the authors and illustrators.
Featured title: Parrots Over Puerto Rico
Illustrator: Susan L. Roth
Synopsis: Above the treetops of Puerto Rico flies a flock of parrots as green as their island home. . . . These are Puerto Rican parrots. They lived on this island for millions of years, and then they nearly vanished from the earth forever.
Puerto Rican parrots, once abundant, came perilously close to extinction in the 1960s due to centuries of foreign exploration and occupation, development, and habitat destruction. In this compelling book, Roth and Trumbore recount the efforts of the scientists of the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program to save the parrots and ensure their future. Woven into the parrots’ story is a brief history of Puerto Rico itself, from before the first human settlers to the present day.
With striking collage illustrations, a unique format, and engaging storytelling, Parrots Over Puerto Rico invites readers to witness the amazing recovery efforts that have enabled Puerto Rican parrots to fly over their island once again.
Awards and honors:
- Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal, American Library Association (ALA)
- Américas Award, Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs
- Junior Library Guild Selection
- Children’s Books of the Year, Bank Street College Children’s Book Committee
- Choices, Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC)
- Best Books, Kirkus Reviews
- Best Books, School Library Journal
- Best Books of the Year, Publisher’s Weekly
- “Starred Review,” Publishers Weekly
- “Starred Review,” School Library Journal
- “Starred Review,” The Horn Book
- “Starred Review,” Booklist
- Top Ten Science and Health Books for Youth, Booklist
- Top Ten Sustainability Books for Youth, Booklist
- Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction, Honor Book, National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
- Teacher’s Choices, International Reading Association (IRA)
- Diverse and Impressive Children’s Books of 2013, International Reading Association (IRA)
- SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books Finalist, AAAS/Subaru
- Nonfiction Honor List 2013, Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
- Prize for Excellence in Children’s Picture Book Finalist, American Association for the Advancement of Science
- Green Earth Book Award Honor Book, Newton Marasco Foundation
- John Burroughs Young Readers Award, John Burroughs Association/American Museum of Natural History
- Lasting Connection Title, Book Links
- Original Art Show, Society of Illustrators
- Traveling Art Show, Society of Illustrators
The story behind the story (read the full interview here):
Your first book together, The Mangrove Tree, also has a theme of environmental conservation. What attracts you to this theme? What do you hope young readers will take away from these stories?
Cindy Trumbore: “Each of these stories is inspiring and moving to us personally, and we thought others would be touched too. We think the takeaway for young readers is that individuals, such as Gordon Sato in The Mangrove Tree and the members of the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program in Parrots Over Puerto Rico, can have an enormous impact in helping people and animals. We hope the books will encourage children to believe that they can help solve the problems they see in the world.”
Susan L. Roth: “My son is passionate about ecology and earth conservation. He has introduced me to many of the complicated problems faced by all of us. I have thought of writing about some of these important issues many times, but often the problems are still too great and still unsolved. As a writer and an illustrator of books for young children, I personally wish to tell my stories with happy, hopeful endings. Both The Mangrove Tree and Parrots Over Puerto Rico are stories where creative, hardworking individuals have recognized serious ecological problems and have worked diligently and successfully toward solving them, therefore permitting these stories to have happy, hopeful endings too.”
Resources for teaching with Parrots Over Puerto Rico:
- Download the Teacher’s Guide from LEE & LOW BOOKS
- Check out the educator activities created by Reading is Fundamental (RIF)
- Create with the Puerto Rican Parrots art activity, made by Crayola® Creativity Central
Additional collections including Parrots Over Puerto Rico:
- Climate Justice
- Environmental Collection
- Bestsellers and Favorites Collection
- Informational Nonfiction Grades 3-6
- High-Low Books for Preteens (Grades 4-6)
How have you used Parrots Over Puerto Rico? Let us know!
Veronica has a degree from Mount Saint Mary College and joined LEE & LOW in the fall of 2014. She has a background in education and holds a New York State childhood education (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6) certification. When she’s not wondering around New York City, you can find her hiking with her dog Milo in her hometown in the Hudson Valley, NY.