A small gem full of hope, determination, and wonder.



The author of The Soul of the Octopus returns with the story of the miraculous recovery of two abandoned baby hummingbirds.

When Brenda Sherburn, a volunteer hummingbird rehabilitator in California, received two orphaned birds, they were not much larger than bumblebees. Uncertain about how to proceed with their recovery, she contacted naturalist Montgomery to help. As the author explains, rehabilitating hummingbirds is difficult work. In addition to maintaining the temperature of their habitat and examining their bodies for injury and invasive insects, baby hummingbirds must be fed every 20 minutes using a tiny syringe. Furthermore, “because the food spoils easily, a fresh batch must be concocted several times a day.” The conditions under which the young are released into the wild are also fraught. Hummingbirds typically lay two eggs, which hatch two days apart. The timing difference can lead to a developmental lag in the youngest hatchling and offer additional challenges, which was the case in the recovery of this pair. With her characteristic compassion, Montgomery shows the patience and skill with which Sherburn nursed her charges back to health. She also discusses the extreme measures other rehabbers have taken to ensure the recovery of injured and orphaned hummingbirds. Montgomery packs a wealth of general information regarding hummingbirds into this slim volume, examining species differences, body mechanics, habitat range, food sources, migration patterns, and relevant mythology. As their attachment to the birds grew, Sherburn and Montgomery chose to break the unwritten rule of naming birds in the process of rehabilitation. Drawing on Aztec and Mayan mythology, they chose Maya and Zuni. Regarding the reason for writing this book, Montgomery explains that witnessing the recovery of these tiny creatures was a cherished gift. If humans, she notes, “could help transform these pathetically vulnerable infants to rulers of the sky, then perhaps our kind can heal our sweet, green, broken world.”

A small gem full of hope, determination, and wonder.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982176-08-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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A straightforward, carefully detailed presentation of how ``fruit comes from flowers,'' from winter's snow-covered buds through pollination and growth to ripening and harvest. Like the text, the illustrations are admirably clear and attractive, including the larger-than-life depiction of the parts of the flower at different stages. An excellent contribution to the solidly useful ``Let's-Read-and-Find-Out-Science'' series. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 1992

ISBN: 0-06-020055-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1991

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A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.


The bad news: On any given outdoor expedition, you are your own worst enemy. The good news: If you are prepared, which this book helps you achieve, you might just live through it.

As MeatEater host and experienced outdoorsman Rinella notes, there are countless dangers attendant in going into mountains, woods, or deserts; he quotes journalist Wes Siler: “People have always managed to find stupid ways to die.” Avoiding stupid mistakes is the overarching point of Rinella’s latest book, full of provocative and helpful advice. One stupid way to die is not to have the proper equipment. There’s a complication built into the question, given that when humping gear into the outdoors, weight is always an issue. The author’s answer? “Build your gear list by prioritizing safety.” That entails having some means of communication, water, food, and shelter foremost and then adding on “extra shit.” As to that, he notes gravely, “a National Park Service geologist recently estimated that as much as 215,000 pounds of feces has been tossed haphazardly into crevasses along the climbing route on Denali National Park’s Kahiltna Glacier, where climbers melt snow for drinking water.” Ingesting fecal matter is a quick route to sickness, and Rinella adds, there are plenty of outdoorspeople who have no idea of how to keep their bodily wastes from ruining the scenery or poisoning the water supply. Throughout, the author provides precise information about wilderness first aid, ranging from irrigating wounds to applying arterial pressure to keeping someone experiencing a heart attack (a common event outdoors, given that so many people overexert without previous conditioning) alive. Some takeaways: Keep your crotch dry, don’t pitch a tent under a dead tree limb, walk side-hill across mountains, and “do not enter a marsh or swamp in flip-flops, and think twice before entering in strap-on sandals such as Tevas or Chacos.”

A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12969-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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