Above the treetops of Puerto Rico flies a flock of parrots as green as their island home. . . . These are Puerto Rican parrots. They lived on this island for millions of years, and then they nearly vanished from the earth forever. Puerto Rican parrots, once abundant, came perilously close to extinction in the 1960s due to centuries of foreign exploration and occupation, development, and habitat destruction. In this compelling book, Roth and Trumbore recount the efforts of the scientists of the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program to save the parrots and ensure their future. Woven into the parrots' story is a brief history of Puerto Rico itself, from before the first human settlers to the present day. With striking collage illustrations, a unique format, and engaging storytelling, Parrots Over Puerto Rico invites readers to witness the amazing recovery efforts that have enabled Puerto Rican parrots to fly over their island once again.
Grades 2-5. Few nonfiction picture books attempt this level of ambition, and even fewer succeed. Thankfully, Roth and Trumbore’s first instinct ends up being the best one: To tell the story of the Puerto Rican parrot you must also tell the story of Puerto Ricans. The earliest human inhabitant of the island originally known as Boriquén arrived by boat around 5,000 BCE. They found a land replete with wildlife, including the brightly colored parrots that built nests in the trees. Watershed moments in Puerto Rican history—including first contact with Europeans in 1493, the arrival of slaves from Africa, and the Spanish-American War—parallel the sharp decline in the parrots’ population, which numbered only 24 by the 1960s. That’s when collaborative efforts of the Puerto Rican and American governments to protect the parrots began, as scientists taught the birds basic social behaviors, how to recognize enemies, and how to raise their young. Roth’s stunning artwork—fluttery, textural collages of fabric and paper with a three-dimensional quality—complement the high-interest narrative and are arranged vertically across dual pages to make the most of the tall trees and the related human actions taking place below. A triumphant reminder of the inescapable connection between people’s actions and the animals in the wild.