Little Green

Keith Baker, Author Harcourt Children's Books $17 (32p) ISBN 978-0-15-292859-9
The ruby-throated hummingbird takes center stage in Baker's (Quack and Count) gorgeous full-bleed spreads of cut- paper collage. ""Little Green"" is the nickname given the bird by the narrator, an aspiring young artist who raptly follows the flitting creature from his desk by an open window: ""I see you out there, Little Green/ In the flowers and between,/ Zipping round and round and round,/ Jigging, jagging, down up down."" For much of the book, however, Baker leaves the painter behind, concentrating instead on the graceful bird as it siphons nectar from the flowers or quenches its thirst with a single drop of water from a garden hose. The collages glow with a lovely translucence that captures the feel of a sunlit garden and the evanescence of the hummingbird's mesmerizing movements (a few swift strokes of white telegraph the rapid beating of the bird's emerald wings). Subtle touches prove that Baker knows his audience: a caterpillar appears in every illustration, and the hero's brushstrokes record the bird's flight patterns. In the final pages, Baker gives his narrator a reward: the bird hovers right outside the window, pausing long enough to discern that the protagonist's scarlet paintbrush is not another flower. The fellow covers his mouth in amazement, but his wide-eyed look speaks volumes about the thrill of being so close to one of nature's wonders. Ages 2-5. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/05/2001
Release date: 03/01/2001
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