Be Your Own Birder

Peep: The Hundred-Decibel Hummer

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  • Author: Shelley Adina (illustrated by Nolan Cordle)
  • Publisher: Moonshell Books
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Pages: 36

Be Your Own Birder’s Thoughts

Birds fascinate children and tiny birds can be the most fascinating of all, but what happens when tiny birds and young readers come together? Peep: The Hundred-Decibel Hummer is based on the true story of an exhausted Anna’s hummingbird, and casts two young children, Danny and Cara, as the bird’s rescuers and protectors. Found in a car, the hummingbird desperately needs help. Danny has the innovative idea to offer homemade nectar with the straw of a juice box, and the hummer quickly revives. Enchanted by the bird’s beauty and peeping personality, he wants to keep it as a pet, but is encouraged to allow the bird to go free and stay wild in order to be safe and happy. That responsible behavior has its rewards, and the aptly named Peep stays nearby and returns year after year, even bringing a mate to visit.

Peep: The Hundred-Decibel Hummer is intended for young readers (approximately ages 6-8), and uses suitable vocabulary and sentence lengths for that age group and reading comprehension level. Nolan Cordle’s colorful, folksy illustrations enhance the text and preserve simplified but accurate visuals, including the appropriate plumage of adult Anna’s hummingbirds. Some real photographs – including a photo of the real Peep that inspired the story – are included, and each has an informative caption with more details and interesting trivia about these birds, such as their name origins, feeding facts, and how they make different sounds.

The story’s instructional message – that it is always good to help a bird, but never nice to keep them confined – is told in simple terms even young readers will understand and learn from. The book does not, however, include further instructions such as a proper hummingbird nectar recipe or tips for young birders to attract their own backyard hummingbirds.

The story does talk of Peep’s migration – leaving during winter when hummingbirds fly to South America – but Anna’s hummingbirds specifically do not venture that far south, and in fact, many of these birds stay in the same area year-round. Fringes of the breeding population do migrate, however, and the simplification as it applies to hummingbirds in general is acceptable in a story for such young readers.

Any book that can get young readers interested in wild birds is a great addition to a classroom, nursery bookshelf, children’s library, or any birder’s bookcase so it can be shared with children and grandchildren. Peep: The Hundred-Decibel Hummer can not only spark a child’s interest in birds, but can help them begin to learn about bird conservation and how to help all wild birds. That instruction and inspiration that will help children grow up to be conscientious of nature and all our interactions with it.

Worth reading? Yes – 9.5/10!

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