How can it be possible that ruby-throated hummingbirds weigh less than a nickel yet fly up to 2,000 miles on their migrations from Mexico and Central America to the United States and Canada? Zoologist and award-winning author Nicola Davies brings us fascinating details like these enveloped by the story of a girl who gets to witness this miraculous migration at its start and finish.
She and her grandmother, shown surrounded by luxuriant gardens full of these tiny flying visitors, can hear their wings "make the sound of their names, beating fast as thought: Tz'unun Tz'unun!" One of the intriguing notes which appear on almost every page explains that this is the word for hummingbirds used in several languages in South and Central America.
Responding to the girl's sadness about having to leave, her grandmother tells her that maybe the birds will come visit her in New York City. Then we as readers begin to watch their journey north, as one lands on a sailboat's rigging at sunset while the girl's plane soars overhead. "Hummingbirds lose half their body weight," we learn, "when they fly north over the Gulf of Mexico in one long trip."
Every one of Jane Ray's vibrant, detailed pictures brings us the wonder, beauty, and joy of these creatures: showing us people they visit along the way, vast mountainous landscapes they cross, and even their nests of "lichen, spider silk, and thistledown" where we see hatchlings half the size of a walnut shell.
This image leads into a summer moment in a park in New York City, when the little girl from the story's start discovers in the grass something that's "white, too small to cap her littlest finger." She realizes it's the tip of a hummingbird's egg, and that a visitor from Granny's garden has found her.
Any adult who knows all the details in this book must be a zoologist or extreme science buff, which is why we would not hesitate to recommend this book to just about anyone of any age (it's listed as 5 - 8 years). The bibliography includes the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's website on these wondrous beings, in case you can't wait to learn more about them.