Books by Bruce Hiscock

ARMADILLO TRAIL by Stephen R. Swinburne
Released: Feb. 1, 2009

Unknown in the United States before 1850, the nine-banded armadillo has expanded its range northward and eastward as far as Kansas, South Carolina and Florida. Former National Park Ranger Swinburne demonstrates this trend, following a particular female armadillo from the Texas landscape where she was born and raised to adulthood and child-bearing of her own in Kansas. Hiscock's detailed watercolors extend across the fold of each double-page spread, illustrating the vast landscape, the ungainly mammal's cozy home and the obstacles and hazards she meets on her journey. The clear text easily brings readers into the journey without actual personification. Both text and pictures are surrounded by generous white space, adding to the sense of potential expansion. Backmatter includes a more general description of the species and a helpful map. As they did for yellow butterflies, sea turtles and snowy owls, this author-illlustrator pair has again provided a fascinating example of the phenomenon of migration in animal behavior. (Informational picture book. 7-10)Read full book review >
OOKPIK by Bruce Hiscock
Released: Feb. 1, 2008

Snowy owls, birds of the frozen far north, appear in the lower 48 states only sporadically, in winters when the lemming population has crashed and food is in short supply. Inspired by such a visitation, Hiscock follows an owl through his first year, from egg to hatchling, first flight and migration from the Baffin Island tundra, over the taiga, past Ottawa, to spend the winter on a farm in northern New York before returning to his arctic home. A map of the bird's imagined journey introduces the narrative, which includes an owl's growth and development, feeding, natural predators and prey. Detailed watercolors illustrate the varied landscapes, often in sweeping double-page spreads. Although Ookpik (the Inuktitut word for "snowy owl") is slightly personified for the sake of the story, the narrative generally sticks to the possible facts and an extensive author's note at the end provides further information. Like his earlier Big Caribou Herd (2003), this conveys the author's love for that remote part of the world and provides a fine introduction for middle-grade readers. (Nonfiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
Released: April 30, 2006

Prompted, perhaps, by overcrowding in its home in the Yucatan, a cloudless sulphur butterfly journeys through the rainforest, over the Gulf of Mexico and across a helpful map of the U.S., passing ponies on Assateague Island and sheltering from a storm in New York's Central Park, before arriving in southern Vermont, where it will mate and die. Its offspring are shown hatching on a cassia plant in the garden where they will spend their lives. The careful reader of the backmatter will realize that this is a one-way journey; unlike the monarch, these butterflies do not fly south, but this is not stated directly in the text. Realistic watercolor illustrations cross page boundaries and details escape into the margins and the area reserved for the evocative text, an imitation of the butterflies' action as they erupt from their normal habitat and spread northward. Young readers will come away with a sense of wonder and admiration for the frail creature's remarkable flight. (author's note) (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-9)Read full book review >
TURTLE TIDE by Stephen R. Swinburne
Released: April 1, 2005

An Atlantic sea turtle struggles ashore to lay her eggs in the sand in this handsomely illustrated picture-book treatment. The tiny turtles, on hatching, struggle to avoid predators; raccoons, ghost grabs, blue herons, sand sharks and laughing gulls diminish the 100 eggs to a single surviving hatchling swimming off into the red gold sea. Hiscock's watercolors illuminate each step along the way in fascinating detail, providing the hook that will lure readers into wanting more. And the backmatter provides information about ocean turtle species and suggested reading. A satisfying introduction to endangered animals, the food chain and the intrepid Atlantic sea turtle by a National Park Service Ranger and author of many other nature titles. (Nonfiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 1997

In 1993, the big rivers of the subtitle flooded huge areas of the Midwest. While small floods are an annual occurrence, ``a few times each century,'' flooding is extensive. Hiscock (The Big Storm, 1993, etc.) traveled the rivers at the height of the flooding in 1993, taking photographs, making sketches, and helping fill sandbags to keep the water back. He reports in an afterword, ``Being there is quite different from watching the flood on TV. . . . The power of the river is so apparent that when a levee fails it is accepted with a kind of quiet reverence.'' This reverence is reflected in the soft watercolor paintings of rising waters and flooded homes and fields—even in sketches of people cleaning up the mess afterward. The tone is calm and the prose is lyrical, but also informative, making brief reference to the problem of river management. This title is visually appealing and presents a surprisingly serene perspective; it might be paired with more critical accounts— e.g., Patricia Lauber's Flood (1996)—that focus more on the underlying causes of the flooding. (map, diagrams) (Picture book/nonfiction. 8-10) Read full book review >
THE BIG STORM by Bruce Hiscock
Released: Sept. 30, 1993

March 1982 went out like a raging lion: from March 31 to April 6, an enormous storm swept across the US, causing blizzards and avalanches in the Rockies, tornadoes on the Great Plains, torrential downpours in the Appalachians, and the first April snowstorm ever recorded in N.Y.C. In colorful illustrations, easily understood maps and diagrams, and a brief, instructive text, Hiscock depicts the storm's path and the forces that created and nourished its short but destructive life. What happened is clear; why is less so: as the author points out, catastrophic weather is still harder to forecast than to analyze after it happens. Attractive and, in light of recent events, well timed. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 5-10) Read full book review >