Bookshelf Quality Fiction

Hummingbird

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Beautifully balancing fact and fiction, ‘Hummingbird’ focuses on the ruby-throated hummingbird. The story starts with a grandmother and her granddaughter waiting in their garden for the ‘Tz-unun’ or ‘zun-zun’ (the name for hummingbirds in several Central and South American countries) to arrive and feed. Like the little girl, Granny says they will soon be flying north. The reader then follows these incredible little birds on their migration until they arrive in New York where the little girl finds part of their egg shell. She then completes the cycle by sending this to her grandmother with a cutting from the newspaper about hummingbirds nesting in Central Park for the first time.

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Produced in association with the RSPB, the story is supplemented with factual notes about various aspects of the ruby-throated hummingbird’s life. An index is included to enable readers to locate this information with ease and a bibliography of further reading is also suggested. Additional notes about these incredible creatures at the beginning and end of the book offer information about how scientists study them. It is truly fascinating!

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The story also reminds us all of the importance of nature as the beauty of these birds captures the attention and interest of many on their journey, spreading the joy of nature as they go. A student forgets his work for a moment as he shares the beauty of the hummingbird with his mother; a family forget the normal distractions of daily life as they share the joy of hummingbirds visiting their homemade feeder. The story offers a sense of love - of human to human as well as for nature.

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Jane Ray’s illustrations are as beautiful as ever. Rich colours and delicate detail bring each scene to life, celebrating the beauty of these birds and the world we live in. She also captures those human relationships- the grandmother and her granddaughter nestled together, the sisters enjoying a special memory, an elderly man and his younger companion sharing a walk in the park with a dog- each of these relationships speaks volumes through her beautiful paintings.

A stunning book about these fascinating birds, ‘Hummingbird’ is a treasure of a book which has great potential for using in school as well as being enjoyed by those wanting to discover more. Just beautiful.

Hummingbird Nicola Davies, illustrated by Jane Ray

Walker Books ISBN: 978-1406379273

The Whisper

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Whenever I am struggling with things, I turn to my books. Just being amongst them is something I find very soothing- the feel of the paper and that wonderful ‘book’ smell as well as the sight of their beauty. This weekend, I spent a lot of time looking through shelves, rediscovering treasures and this was one I found. ‘The Whisper’, written and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, is such a lovely book which is perfect for using with a class.

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When her teacher lends her a special book, the little girl cannot wait to get home and start reading it. On the way, however, the words fall out of the story and she is faced with a book full only of pictures. A small whisper on the wind tells her to imagine the stories which the pictures tell- and she does, creating the first few lines to accompany each picture. She returns the book, full of the stories she has to share…

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A joyous celebration of the power of imagination, of sharing stories and of the wonder of each individual bringing something of themself to everything they read, ‘The Whisper’ lends itself beautifully to creating stories and inspiring illustration. Each spread is full of amazing details to explore and wonder about.

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From references to Aesop’s fable, ‘The Fox and the Grapes’, a quote from Longfellow at the beginning to the stunning illustrations, this book is so inspirational that we have gathered our thoughts and have created planning ideas for this book which will soon be available on the Members’ Section of our website. A book list of books about books and stories will also be available very soon.

‘An ode to the imagination’, The Whisper is full of possibilities and wonder.

The Whisper written and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ISBN: 978-0544416864

Hay 2019: Michelle Paver

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‘The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness’ are amongst my favourite books and I have fond memories of taking my son to hear Michelle Paver speak as each new book in the series came out. ‘Wolf Brother’, the first book, is one which I regularly use in school. So I was delighted to discover that Michelle Paver was back at Hay - and that there are to be three new books about Torak, Renn and Wolf.

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Michelle explained how she has always been fascinated by the Stone Age and wolves- the perfect mix for writing this series. She takes her research very seriously- going to places which Torak and Wolf inhabited because she wanted to make the reader feel that they were living the adventure. Visiting these remote places has at times been dangerous- she told us of an encounter with a polar bear- but the vivid descriptions and atmosphere created by her writing shows how worthwhile this has been!

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Michelle explained how she thought she had finished Torak and Wolf’s story, but a trip to North Norway gave her inspiration for taking their adventures further. One night as the Northern Lights shone brightly in the sky and then faded to one tree pointing north, she knew where Torak, Renn and Wolf were going next. Taking place two summers after the close of the chronicles when Renn and Torak are seventeen summers old, the first book is to be called ‘The Viper’s Daughter’.

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I can’t wait to read Wolf’s next adventures- and share them with all the children (and adults!) I know who love him as much as I do!