Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hummingbird Nest: A Journal of Poems

George, Kristine O'Connell. 2004. Hummingbird Nest: A Journal of Poems. Ill. by Barry Moser. New York: Harcourt, Inc. ISBN 0152023259

Plot Summary
Kristine O'Connell George and her family were the lucky eye-witnesses of a mother hummingbird who chose their patio ficus tree on which to build her nest and raise two baby hummingbirds. Being smitten with the mother bird, Kristine O'Connell George decided to keep a daily journal of the birds' activities from building the nest to the eventual first flight of the baby hummingbirds. From her journal came this book of poems illustrated by Barry Moser.

Critical Analysis
George beautifully chronicles the lives of a mother hummingbird and her fledglings using simple but precise language. The journalistic style of the poetry doesn't require exact rhythm and rhymes, but enough is used to maintain the sense that what one is reading is poetry. Including points of view from the family cat ("The Cat Remarks...I'm a prisoner-because of a bird. How absurd.) and dog and even the sky allows students to experience more of the event that just those the usual third person or singular first person can provide.
Barry Mose's illustrations of transparent water color draws in in, softly and quietly, to view the nest and its occupants. Several details are included that students will recognize from their own homes, making more real experience the story of the hummingbird.

Review Excerpts
Publishers Weekly starred review: "Sublime illustrations and keenly observant verse are sure to captivate in this collection about a hummingbird who sets up house in the author's backyard..."
Curriculum Connections: "A family watches with breathless fascination as a hummingbird builds a next on their porch, lays her eggs, and cares for her young. Brief poems and delicate watercolors convey a sense of wonder and excitement. A nature lover's delight."

Read a page a day using the actual calendar of time from the book. Discuss the event for theat day and allow students to write their own journal to correspond with the book.
Conduct research on hummingbirds.
Ask the art teacher to teach water color techniques so students can illustrate their own journals.
Check out the back of the book for a list of books and website the author has provided for teachers and students in their study of hummingbirds.

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