The flamingo story begins with a mother flamingo on her mud nest in a salt lake shimmering in the heat. Many other flamingos are also there, with father birds taking turns on the nests as the mothers stretch and fly off in search of food. Surviving a storm, an egg finally hatches in the nest. The parents both feed it; the chick grows, changes, begins to fly. The birds survive dry and wet periods, and an attack by wild pigs. After five years the chick is grown up enough to search for a mate. A nest is made, and a new life cycle begins. The simple language celebrates the wonder of the life of these birds as it delivers the facts about them. Gouache and watercolors combine to create dramatic double-page scenes of tropical storms as well as sensitive portraits of the growing chick. Naturalistic, informative illustrations hold our attention by including considerable contextual detail. Guiberson's esthetic sensibilities are exploited in the designing of the interactions of scores of birds while choosing environmental colors that add emotional impact. 2005, Henry Holt and Company, Ages 4 to 8.
Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Gr 2-4-Featuring a flamingo colony in Inagua National Park in the Bahamas, Guiberson's brightly colored watercolor/gouache illustrations are a perfect complement for her informative, conversational text. From egg to chick to final mating maturity, the life cycle of a flamingo is followed; readers see the young bird's straight beak curl and curve, its diet change from reddish flamingo "milk" to brine shrimp, and its white fluff bloom into pinky-orange plumage. Team this attractive book with Bruce McMillan's detailed photo-essay Wild Flamingos (Houghton, 1997) for a fine flamingo duo, or perhaps with Guiberson's own Spoonbill Swamp (Holt, 1992) for a pair of titles that are pretty in pink.-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
A young flamingo hatches and grows to maturity in a narrative that packs an enormous amount of information into what is a very simple story. The "mud city" of the title is the flamingos' salty Bahamian hatching ground, evocatively rendered with precise prose. Guiberson relates the perils-sudden storms, wild pigs-and pleasures-shrimp "soup," the mating dance-of flamingo life with equal dispatch, never indulging in anthropomorphism. Even as readers follow the protagonist's story, they will learn about the delicate ecosystem of the salinas (salty lakes formed by evaporation) and the ways human activities can affect flamingos. With her text, Guiberson has done her usual efficient job of giving young readers an insiders' view of a very alien way of life; for the first time, however, she provides the accompanying illustrations, with somewhat mixed results. While some compositions are inspired (the fledgling flamingo splashes down awkwardly after his first flight), others, if competent, are fairly prosaic, adding little to the words. The strength and specificity of the text justifies the whole; one hopes in subsequent works the illustrations will rise to the occasion. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-8)