cover image Dancers in the Garden

Dancers in the Garden

Joanne Ryder. Sierra Club Books for Children, $15.45 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-87156-578-5

Stretching its tiny wings, a hummingbird wakes to a new day's warmth. As he darts around the sunlight, his throat flashes iridescent colors. In Lopez and Ryder's careful observation, the frenetic bird slows down enough for readers to track his feeding, sleeping, mating and nesting habits. ``Dancing in the brightness, / hummingbird dips down/ where silken webs dangle, / trapping tiny flyers. / Quickly he plucks a web, / stealing his breakfast from spider.'' Expressive and elegant, the poetic language is perfectly matched by exquisite, detailed watercolors rimmed in gold. Through an adult's empathetic reading aloud, such refinement may captivate sensitive youngsters. But other beginning readers may find this lingering and placid contemplation ill-suited to the spirited aeronaut, which flies backward, sideways and upside down and screeches to a halted suspension with wings blurring like the blades of a fan. Still, the book admirably delineates the grace and delicacy of this diminutive marvel of nature. Ages 5-9. (Sept.)