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Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas
Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas
By authors: Jeanette Larson, Adrienne Yorinks   Illustrated by: Adrienne Yorinks
Product Code: 
Binding Information: Hardback 
9  - 11
In Stock
Price: $16.95

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"A lovely little creature moving on humming winglets . . ."
-John James Audubon

Hummingbirds are fascinating little creatures that have captured the imagination of people for thousands of years. Since they are only found in the Americas, the myths and legends about this tiny bird originated from the peoples of North and South America. These native cultures wrote stories to offer explanations for the behavior and physical characteristics of this graceful species: Why does the hummingbird drink nectar? What accounts for its amazing flying abilities? Why is the hummingbird attracted to the color red?

Jeannette Larson and Adrienne Yorinks have compiled facts and folklore about these intriguing fliers that will answer these questions and many more. Readers will also get a glimpse into the different cultures that have been transfixed for centuries by this bird, as well as learn many interesting scientific facts discovered by modern-day ornithologists. Adrienne's bold and unique mixed-media quilts illustrate the hummingbird in nature and the mystery of these birds in ancient folklore.

"Jeanette Larson and Adrienne Yorinks have woven together a compendium of information and folklore about that most wondrous of all winged creatures, the enigmatic hummingbird. In this seamless presentation of words and art, readers of all ages will find enormous appreciation for this tiny, enchanting creature. "
--Kathi Appelt, author of Keeper

Substantial back matter includes an index, a glossary of terms, suggested further reading and websites, a bibliography, sources, resources, and a list of hummingbird sanctuaries.

This book is good for your brain because:
Life science, history, legends, and myths from the Americas, animal habitat

Click here to read an interview with Jeanette Larson and Adrienne Yorinks.

Download the cover image.

Download a coloring sheet.

If you like this book, you'll love these:
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  • The Bird Alphabet Book
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  • Also Available As:
    Binding Information: Paperback 
    ISBN: 978-1-58089-333-6
    Availability: In Stock
    Price: $8.95

      Kirkus Reviews - January 1, 2010
    A very nicely conceived title that does not entirely cohere. The authors have compiled a lot of information about hummingbirds: their biological orders, families and species; their habits and patterns; their migrations and physical characteristics. They keep at the forefront what makes these tiny, strong, territorial flyers so fascinating and why they are so astonishingly beautiful (it’s not the colors in the feathers, it’s the way the feathers refract light, like a prism.) Each short chapter discusses a physiological or behavioral characteristic and presents a hummingbird legend or story, woven from various versions of tales from Navajo, Aztec, Taino and other indigenous peoples of the Americas. Yorinks has created all the illustrations with fabric collage—cotton, silk, paints, glitter—from small spots to double-page spreads in which the text floats on the images. The text does not always read smoothly, there is some repetition and the rather odd inclusion of a small quilt with the actor Alan Arkin’s image (he’s a hummingbird fan) that adds to the hodgepodge feel.
      NC Teacher Stuff - February 14, 2011
    Like the authors, I am fascinated by the tiny iridescent warrior known as the hummingbird. I remember one sundown at a lake in South Carolina spent watching a hummingbird defend its territory of a bush and a feeder. You could hear the wings buzzing and see the darting missile going in and out of the bush. I also remember my own feeder and being buzzed by the king of that castle. Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas is a unique tribute to these beloved birds. Each section consists of a facts section accompanied by a piece of folklore from a native culture in the Americas. For example, there is an article about hummingbird predators where the authors tell about how animals such as hawks, roadrunners, snakes, freshwater bass (yikes!), and even dragonflies are a threat to these birds. Following this is an Aztec legend that explains how Aztec warriors were transformed into hummingbirds when they died on the battlefield. In addition, Adrienne Yorinks's quilt illustrations are stunning. You enjoy the brilliant colors, but the textures pull you in for repeated viewings as well.

    I love books like this that can be used in so many ways. For language arts, you can teach pourquoi tales which are folklore explanations of how something came into being. If you have students create animal research reports, there are plenty of facts in this text for students to learn. The excellent back matter is a great source for teaching how to use text features such as glossaries, indexes, and resource lists. I suspect that when I look back on 2011, Hummingbirds will stand as one of my favorite nonfiction books of the year.

      New York Journal of Books - February 6, 2011
    Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas lives up to the promise of its title.

    The book is a fascinating blend of factual information, imaginative story, and gorgeous art. Hummingbirds are tiny creatures, found only in the Americas. They have been, throughout history, the subject of legends that offer explanations of their brilliant coloring and amazing flying abilities.

    A section about their size and physical characteristics is followed by an Ohlone legend of “Why the Hummingbird’s Throat is Red.” The information on diet and food is followed by a Hitchiti tale of “Why the Hummingbird Drinks Nectar.” A Mayan legend of “How the Hummingbird Got Its Colors” follows the factual presentation of the brilliant plumage and color of hummingbirds.

    One of the most amazing characteristics of these little birds that is discussed in this book is their unusual manner of flight. They can fly forward, backward, hover, and even to propel themselves upside-down with up to 200 wing beats a second. This information comes right before the West Indies legend, “How the Hummingbird Won the Race.”

    Sections on habitat, migration, courtship and reproduction, vocalization, and predators follow this same pattern.

    The book concludes with information on titles for further reading, tale sources, additional resources, websites, and a list of hummingbird sanctuaries. This is a well-written and well-designed book.

      School Library Journal - March 1, 2011
    In a narrative that flows easily between fact and lore, hummingbird behavior is thoroughly described and interwoven with the folktales it generated among Native American peoples. These birds must consume one-and-a-half times their body weight each day in nectar and insects. The pourquoi tale from the Hitchiti people of the Southeast United States explains that Hummingbird lost a race to Heron (and its right to eat fish) by constantly stopping to sip nectar from the flowers. All the stories show how ancient people answered the "how and why" questions of the behaviors they observed, and these stories beautifully echo modern-day scientific observations. The full-color photos of quilts and embroidery by Yorinks invite readers to stop and savor each one. This colorful combination of fact and folklore is amplified by a glossary with nicely detailed definitions, a list of hummingbird sanctuaries, and sources of the folktales.
      Rosemary Wells - February 28, 2011
    I think [the] book and Adrienne's marvelous quilted illustrations are utterly unique. The book is wonderful. I love this approach, learned a lot and can't wait to share it with my granddaughters!
      Booklist - March 1, 2011
    This attractive book presents information about hummingbirds along with pourquoi tales based on folklore. Discussing topics such as flight, habitat, or migration, each of the nine informational sections (one to three pages in length) is followed by a colorful, three-page narrative section. For example, a discussion under the heading "Diet and Food" precedes a "A Hitchiti Tale: Why the Hummingbird Drinks Nectar." The reading level of the informational text is higher than that of the stories. More effective as illustrations of the stories than the facts, Yorinks' impressive fabric-collage artwork incorporates paint and photos. Although there are no captions, an appended note identifies the birds in the illustrations. The back matter also includes a glossary, bibliographies, and lists of Internet sites and hummingbird sanctuaries. Specific sources for individual tales are not identified, though a note states that "a variety of sources, including many websites, were consulted in creating a version of each legend" and lists a dozen print sources. For larger collections.
      Library Ties - April 6, 2011
    I first met Jeanette Larson about 6 or 7 years ago when we served on an advisory board for a publisher. At this point, she was still working in youth services in a public library and I was near the beginnings of my career in school libraries. Over the years, we kept in touch catching up at ALA conference and Facebook. We even could share a few jokes (like the fact that she’s been an ALA member longer than I’ve been alive!) Hmmm…probably I saw more humor in that one that her! But, anyway, move forward a few years and Jeanette is now retired (although she seems pretty busy to me with consulting and writing!!). About a year ago she posted on Facebook about her first book coming out for children! I had eagerly been waiting to get my copy and a few weeks ago it arrived on my front door step!

    The book was a collaboration with Adrienne Yorinks. Adrienne did he fabulous illustrations for this book. Forget pictures or paints, these quilted pictures are absolutely amazing! They contained such detail that you almost thought they were pictures. They fit in perfectly with the text. My favorite parts of the book are the interweaving of the non-fiction facts about Hummingbirds with the Native folklore and stories. The stories are short and simple to read and understand. They would be perfect to pick and choose for a read aloud. The nonfiction information would be perfect for a young reader doing a report. The fact that all of this is combined into one books truly makes it a unique endeavor.

    This is going to be a fun book to go back and share with students and teachers when we get back from Spring Break! Thanks to Jeanette and Adrienne for creating such a unique books for young (and old) readers alike!

      Curled Up With A Good Kid's Book - February 1, 2011
    Everyone loves hummingbirds, right? Tiny and mysterious, they dart and hover around the flowers in our yards and brighten up the world with their color.

    Did you know that hummingbirds are only found in the Americas? Or that they follow a migration route that would challenge the sturdiest of airplanes?

    This lovely, informative book is full of facts about hummingbird diet, eggs, chicks, predators, and history. Almost every native culture found them as fascinating as we do today, and there are many Native America tales about them within these pages. Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas includes many of those stories, including
    * Why the hummingbird’s throat is red from the Ohlone
    * Why the hummingbird drinks nectar from the Hitchiti
    * How the hummingbird got its colors from the Maya

    As a bonus, the book is full of photographs of handcrafted quilts featuring hummingbirds in a variety of natural settings. Hummingbirds also includes a glossary of terms and a reading list for those who want to know even more.

    Hummingbirds is an ideal gift for the young birdwatcher in your life, but it isn’t exclusively for the kids. Between the facts and the images, this is a well-rounded and artful volume that anyone will enjoy.

      Vegbooks - February 27, 2011
    February is National Bird-Feeding Month! What better way to get in the mood than with trivia and folklore about one of the smallest and most intriguing creatures of flight, the hummingbird? Like any reputable non-fiction animal book, Hummingbirds explores their physical attributes (size, plumage, color), diet, habitat, vocalizations, and predators. I found the section on migration to be particularly captivating. The Rufous hummingbird flies 2,500 miles from Central America to Alaska each way, while the Ruby-throated hummingbird will make a non-stop 500 mile voyage across the Gulf of Mexico! Even neater is that this bird's feathers are a bit more lackluster than we think; their brilliant coloration really stems from light refracting on his or her plumage.

    What this book does best is to stitch together scientific inquiry, cultural nuances and fabric collage illustrations into an attractive literary quilt for its readers. Juxtaposed with each sub-category is an allegorical tale from a different society (Aztec, Navajo, Taino) explaining in a fanciful manner why hummingbirds drink nectar, are attracted to the color red or live in the mountains, etc. And fabric artist Adrienne Yoinks brings these friends-in-flight to life through her realistic textile renderings, likely a new medium for this book's readers. Unfortunately, she does use silk in some of her pieces. For a simple nectar recipe you can make at home this Bird-Feeding Month, visit the National Museum of Animals & Society. Hummingbirds will return year after year to enjoy your nectar. Make a big batch!

      Wildlife Promise - May 3, 2011
    If April showers bring May flowers, then what do May flowers bring? Hummingbirds! One of my favorite Mother's Day gifts is a red hummingbird feeder. It's a gift that has kept on giving over the years with every glimpse of the tiny, busy beaks that take a sip.

    And this year I have the perfect gift for my mom, another avid hummingbird watcher: Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas. Jeanette Larson and Adrienne Yorinks have compiled a collection of intriguing facts and legends, all beautifully illustrated with Yorinks's quilted artwork. Below is but a "nectar nip" of what the book holds:
    - Hummingbirds weigh roughly as much as two pages of notebook paper.
    - They have the highest metabolic rate of any warm-blooded vertebrate and feed for about two hours every day.
    - An ancient Mayan legend ascribed the hummingbird's bright colors to the fine gifts it received from other creatures on its wedding day.
    - The Aztec people believed that feisty hummingbirds were actually the spirits of fallen warriors.
    - Wing beats range from twenty-five to two hundred beats per second.
    - Their eggs are about the size of a small jelly bean.

    And here's a fun fact for all you resourceful, recycling moms: the female hummingbird is an ingenious nest builder, often using whatever is available, including "animal hair, plant fiber, [and] fibers from the roofs of abandoned cars." Happy Mother's Day!

      ReaderKidZ - March 20, 2011
    This unique book offers a mixture of facts and stitches. The "illustration quilts" are true works of art, a combination of needlework embroidery and free form quilting that motivates one to examine the pictures through a magnifying glass - such creative talent! And the legends are priceless.
      Science Books & Films - June 1, 2011
    This attractive volume will be a pleasure to read. By intertwining the biology and ecology of hummingbirds with folklore of Native American cultures of North and South America, the authors make the book a quick and entertaining read. The book is also visually very appealing: Beautiful fabric collage illustrations are displayed on most of the pages. The reader’s appreciation of hummingbirds will definitely grow upon reading this title. For instance, the reader will learn that small hummingbirds can beat their wings 200 beats per second and one hummingbird species (the rufous hummingbird) migrates more than 2,500 miles each way. The number of wing beats required to complete a journey like this is mind boggling. About one page each is devoted to topics such as physical characteristics, diet, plumage, flight, habitat, migration, reproduction, vocalization, and predation, with each section followed by traditional folklore. Readers need to be aware that this is not a hummingbird identification book, but instead is more like an attractive coffee-table book full of interesting facts concerning the hummingbird family in general. It could be used for general awareness or as a starting point for reference and is suitable for ages 12 to adult.
      SimplyScience Blog - June 8, 2011
    "Hummingbirds defy the limitations of their tiny size and other physical constraints that most species could not conquer. When early European explorers first saw a hummingbird, they thought it was a cross between an insect and a bird because of its small size."

    I've watched the hummingbirds sip nectar and then return to fight on our front deck, and they are fascinating birds. Tiny and fierce, they dive and drive away competitors in their territory. I've watched their diving behavior and thought they were fighting the entire time. Some of it is courting behavior!

    Larson's and Yorink's Hummingbirds revealed a new view of these beautiful, iridescent birds that can fly in any direction. The book gives facts in a narrative text with retold folklore interspersed about the hummingbirds that matches the category discussed in the chapter. This is a creative way to present the information while digging into the folklore about these birds.

    The art is done in fabric collage with a quilted feel. The stitching follows specific hummingbird species in quality representations that matches the information in the narrative. The extensive back matter includes a glossary, additional reading, bibliography, tale sources, bird resources, hummingbird sanctuaries, web sites, art notes, and a glossary.

    The book covers a wide range of topics: Life science, history, legends, myths from the Americas, and animal habitats. It’s a beautiful book and worth reading straight through or in small chunks. What a wonderful way to introduce readers to birds and folktales!

      Yellow Brick Road - May 1, 2011
    Facts about these fascinating flyers are interwoven with folklore from native peoples of the Americas. The cultural interpretations of the hummingbirds' characteristics add a charming element to this book.
      Bobbie Jean Tweed - May 7, 2011
    I just finished reading your beautiful book. I saw it on display at the library and, being a bird enthusiast, grabbed it to share with my children and preschool students. Little did I know it would move me so. The information, stories, and artwork were equally impressive. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and talent.

    I am going to share the book with my neighbor who is a textile artist as I know she will enjoy it immensely, too. You have inspired me with knowledge and appreciation. I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my hummers to Rochester, Minnesota.

      REFORMA Newsletter - July 13, 2011
    Hummingbirds are amazing creatures that have fascinated people since the beginning of time. Within this text, facts and characteristics about the hummingbird are interspersed with indigenous folktales from the Americas, including the West Indies. Larson and Yorinks do a fabulous job mixing facts with tales; the jump between the two is not jarring nor is the writing style between facts and folklore too varied. Yorinks is also a strong visual artist whose beautifully quilted, mixed media illustrations add to the uniqueness of the book. Every page showcases a new image and every folktale is highlighted by a double spread of quilts as a backdrop. The end of the book contains a glossary, suggested further readings, a bibliography, tale sources, resources, and a list of hummingbird sanctuaries. Unfortunately for folklorist, the 'tale sources' listed are not the primary resources, but rather where the tales were previously published. It would also have been helpful to have a map to demonstrate to readers where each folktale originates. Recommended
      Hummingbird Lore - July 19, 2011
    Hummingbirds, Facts and Folklore from the Americas, is a wonderful and surprising new book by Jeanette Larson and Adrienne Yorinks. You can enjoy this book as biology, folklore and art.

    It is wonderful because this 64-page, 8 x 10 book is packed full of beautifully written facts and stories. Even if you have already been reading about hummingbirds I’ll almost guarantee you will find facts in this book that you have not run across before.

    The book is concise, authoritative, and easy to understand. It is also entertaining and fun to read. I recommend it for adults and children alike. Author Jeanette Larson is a librarian as well as a writer, and the research, like the writing, was apparently a labor of love.

    The book is surprising because the beautiful, realistic illustrations were created with fabric and needlework. Co-author Adrienne Yorinks illustrated the book with her own original needle art.

    You can see thousands of hummingbird photos on the Web, but you’ve never seen anything like Yorinks’s simply beautiful needlework paintings. The book would make a great gift for someone who loves the fabric arts.

    One reason this is a great book for both adults and children is that while the facts are fascinating, each chapter also includes a Native American teaching story on hummingbirds.

      Post-Tribune - July 7, 2011
    Hummingbirds by Jeanette Larson and Adrienne Yorinks does not use photos. It uses quilts created by Yorinks to illustrate “Facts and Folklore from the Americas” for us. The quilts are gorgeous, and we learn lots of facts in between folk tales about these fascinating birds. We don’t know how “old” hummingbirds are but there are mentions in pre-Columbian works and they are only found in the Americas. Birders of all ages would enjoy this lovely little book.
      Library Media Connection - October 1, 2011
    Librarian Jeanette Larson has joined with textile artist Adrienne Yorinks to create a truly unique book. They have combined factual information about hummingbirds with folklore from various peoples of the Americas. The text alternates between facts and a tale that corresponds to those particular facts. The pourquoi tales explain why hummingbirds behave in a certain way or have specific physical characteristics. Yorinks' colorful quilted art illustrations are unique and fit seamlessly into the book. An extensive glossary, additional reading suggestions, bibliography, tale sources, list of hummingbird sanctuaries and birding organizations conclude this informative and enjoyable book.
      WLS Children Librarians Wiki - October 12, 2011
    Almost everyone is transfixed by the beauty of a hummingbird. These ethereal creatures are found only in the Americas. There are more than 300 kinds of hummingbirds in the Americas, but only the single ruby throated hummingbird can be found in the Northeast. Larson’s book tells the young reader about courtship, food, migration, size, and predators. Yorinks contributes bold, attractive quilts that feature different hummingbirds in action. The book has several folk tales that native people tell about hummingbirds. The final pages have notes on hummingbird websites, a glossary, resources, and an index. There is much to recommend in this book to anyone interested in the beauty and habits of this fascinating creature.
      Not Just for Kids - October 21, 2011
    This striking book takes a very interesting approach to the subject of hummingbirds (which, incidentally, make up the second-largest group of birds in the Americas.) It combines factual information with folktales. And quilts! When I first held this book in my hand, I felt like I was looking at one of those trick pictures with two images. When you look at the picture above, what do you see first: the subject of the book or the fantastically crafted cover? Personal prerspective might dictate how a reader is initially drawn to this book, but in the end, the merger of fact and craft is an attractive one.

    At the heart of this book, as the title suggests, is the mighty hummingbird. This tiny bird, which seems to defy logic, holds a fascination not just for author Jeanette Larson, but clearly intrigued and inspired several North and South American native cultures as well. Larson starts by presenting the scientific data. Size and physical characteristics, plumage, habitat, courtship--these are some of the subjects which introduce the hummingbird to the reader. Each factual chapter is followed by a pourquoi tale--a "why" tale--which is relevant to the initial discussion. "Vocalization" is followed by Why the Hummingbird Has No Song, a Navajo tale; "Migration" is followed by the Aztec Legend Why the Hummingbird Migrates to Mexico. The hummingbird is not always a hero, such as in Why the Hummingbird Drinks Nectar, a Hitchiti Tale from the southeastern United States that bears a resemblance to The Tortoise and the Hare. But whether hero or rogue, the diversity of folktales across the length and breadth of North and South America is a testament to the ubiquity of the bird.

    Special mention needs to be made of the quilts created for the book by Adrienne Yorinks. Using a combination of spot illustrations--or should I say, 'spot quilts'--to break up the scientific text, and then double page spreads, like the one above, to provide a background to the folktales, she has crafted a unique-looking book. Even the quilts themselves, which incorporate acrylic paint, collage, and photo transfers look unlike any quilts I have ever seen. They are vibrant, and at times unexpected, much like the hummingbird itself. I love the fact, mentioned in Yorinks' Art Notes, that hummingbirds can "breed with other species of hummingbirds, creating one-of-a-kind hybrids." All part of the hummingbird mystique which writers and scientists have been trying to capture since the Nazca civilization.

    In her introduction, Larsen says, "To fully understand any subject, it's useful to gather knowledge about it through every discipline, whether factual resources or stories." By taking this approach she has written a book which will have appeal for researchers as well as readers of tales and hopefully cross pollinate interest between the two.

      Kutztown Fall Book Review - November 10, 2011
    This is a fantastic nonfiction resource for students who want to learn about hummingbirds. The first thing a reader will notice about the book is the quality of the illustrations. The illustrations are pictures taken of real quilts woven together using an array of fabrics. The quilts feature different types of humminbirds, their habitats, and other animals. They are arranged, of course, to fit in with the content of the book. the book's content switches back and forth between facts about hummingbirds and the American myths, legends, and folklore. In the back of the book, a number of resources are given to support the book's information along with a section including additional reading for kids. There is a useful index and glossary for students who quickly want to look up a piece of information, but the bookk is also interesting enough to sit down and read completely. This is a great resource for kids who need to find information on hummingbirds and it is a fascinating read for people who are just curious about these beautiful birds.