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Allusion is not Illusion

You'll pry my books off my cold, dead body. By the time you shift them all I'll be flat and dessicated.

Currently reading

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Growing Up Humming - Mike Spinak
I particularly enjoyed reading this now, in spring, when I've been watching the baby birds learn to fly and explore the larger world. There is a hummingbird nest in the tree outside that has been reinhabited (and I assume rebuilt, since Spinak explains that the mother tears up the old nest to get the babies to fly) for at least the three years I've lived here. I'm not sure if my hummingbirds are Anna's like the ones in this book, but they might well be as [b:Peterson's|3095861|Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America|Roger Tory Peterson|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348464543s/3095861.jpg|17393468] indicates that I live in the correct range.

I've tried to get a close look at my hummingbirds, but it's hard. Try it. See how closely you can observe hummingbirds. They are tiny, they are fast, they go zoom, and if you bother them too much they may go for you! The ones where I grew up did that; these here seem friendlier. One of the younger ones let me come quite close.


But as you can see, it's still difficult to make out much detail. Spinak's photography is just amazing. His birds are larger-than-life. You can make out every feather and every scrap in the nest (he explains what materials are used). He records the mother and babies over a periods of weeks, and they seem undisturbed by his presence.


Although the highlight for me was definitely the photography, I also enjoyed the text and learned things I hadn't previously known about hummingbirds; for instance, that they start out with bare "sheathes" that gradually grow feathers. The writing style is just fine for kids, clear without being condescending. Longer or more technical vocabulary is explained, and Spinak makes sensible and appropriate comparisons such as Just like a big coat would cause drag through the water and make it harder for someone to swim, Little Sister’s down feathers would drag through the air and make it harder to fly where a small child might be concerned that the mother was hurting the baby by pulling out the down.

The only thing I would've added to this book would be a map showing the area where the birds are found and a few notes on other types of hummingbirds so that children who don't have Anna's in their areas could look for other sorts.

This book was given to me gratis by the author in exchange for an unbiased review.