Parrots Over Puerto Rico

By Horn Book Blog

[Parrots Over Puerto Rico is] an unusual book right from the get-go: the cover. The only words on the cover AT ALL are on the spine; the front jacket just shows…parrots, in bright blues and greens highlighted with a few touches of red (near the birds’ beaks). The colors of the paper are augmented by creamy white and black fabric for eyes and beaks. That’s one notable element (although we’ve seen more wordless jackets in the past several years). The other much more unusual element is that the entire picture book is presented in vertical spreads: the reader turns the book sideways from the very beginning, with everything–page layout; flap copy, main text, back matter–following in that vertical dimension. Roth’s art is gorgeous. Maybe beyond gorgeous. It’s the kind of art where you take in the whole picture–parrots flying over an uninhabited shoreline; a cascading waterfall; parrots and trees being buffeted by a hurricane–and then stay looking at the picture to figure out how she achieved her effects. Where she used paper, where she used fabric; how the myriad details add up to a whole. The waterfall page is a tour de force, but I think I appreciate even more the hurricane page: how did she show WIND!?! In any case, here’s a book from a smaller, independent publisher that would seem to deserve close inspection and consideration from the Caldecott committee.