Hummingbirds<br><font size=2>Facts and Folklore from the Americas</font>

Facts and Folklore from the Americas

  • 1695

By: Jeanette Larson and Adrienne Yorinks / Illustrated by: Adrienne Yorinks

"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.

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.

Look Inside the Book:

Author & Illustrator Bios:

Jeanette Larson, author

Jeanette Larson is the author of professional books for librarians, including Bringing Mysteries Alive for Children and Adults(Linwood). She also served as a compiler and contributor for Quilt of the States (National Geographic), which features fabric art by Adrienne Yorinks. She lives in Rockport, Texas.

Read more about Jeanette.

Adrienne Yorinks, author & illustrator

Adrienne Yorinks has illustrated many picture books, including The Last Will and Testament of a Very Distinguished Dog (Henry Holt) and Stand for Children (Hyperion). She lives in Short Hills, New Jersey.

Read more about Adrienne.

Awards & Honors:

  • Storytelling World Resource Awards Honor Book
  • Library Media Connection's Editor's Choice
  • Skipping Stones Honor Award

Editorial Reviews:

Chicago Tribune

“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.

School Library Journal

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.


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 "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.

Science Books & Films

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.

Library Media Connection

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.


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ISBN: 978-1-58089-332-9

ISBN: 978-1-58089-333-6

E-book PDF
ISBN: 978-1-60734-272-4
For information about purchasing E-books, click here.

Ages: 9-12
Page count: 64
7 1/2 x 10

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