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Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 1 year, 1 month ago

8 April 2022 HARRIET’S RUFFLED FEATHERS: THE WOMAN WHO SAVED MILLIONS OF BIRDS by Joy McCullough and Romina Galotta, ill. Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, March 2022, 40p., ISBN: 978-1-5344-8676-8


“Founded in 1905 and named for John James Audubon, the society has 600,000 members and maintains more than 100 wildlife sanctuaries and nature centers throughout the U.S. Its high-priority campaigns include preserving wetlands and endangered forests, protecting corridors for migratory birds, and conserving marine wildlife.”

– “National Audubon Society,” from Brittanica.com


“Your life is the sky

Your future is the dawn

Reflected in the colors of the feathers you have worn”

– Buffy St. Marie, “Hey Little Bird” (1967)


“Harriet gathered her flock, welcoming them to her home. And then she told them, ‘Did you know that every year, five million birds are killed in the name of fashion?’

Some women were scandalized that Harriet had spoken of such an unladylike thing. But most were horrified to learn of the problem.

Before they left, the women pledged they would never again wear hats with feathers…

Harriet and Minna had more tea parties to spread the word. They gave out leaflets explaining the cause. More than nine hundred Boston women joined their boycott of feathered hats.

They set up lectures with bird scientists to help people understand how to better protect our feathered friends. Harriet and Minna gathered powerful, influential people–doctors, professors, senators, and ministers. Together, they decided on the goals and methods for an organization. Harriet and her fellow bird protectors became the Massachusetts Audubon Society, named for John James Audubon, an artist famous for his paintings of birds.

By the next year, there were 111 Audubon groups across the state.”


And so it was that, in 1896, Harriet Lawrence Hemenway read “an alarming news story about the millions of birds who died so that Harriet and her friends could soar at the height of style.” This inspired her to instigate a boycott of feathered hats and, in the process, her activism led to what became the National Audubon Society. 


World population has nearly tripled in my lifetime. As a result, it’s getting more and more (and even more) difficult to utilize the planet’s resources and open spaces while maintaining the health of the planet and the diversity of species that we’ve inherited. If we want to avoid the catastrophes that science has clearly warned us are coming, we need to persuade younger generations to develop a real respect for Mother Nature.


Accompanied by Remina Galotta’s attractive watercolor illustrations, HARRIET’S RUFFLED FEATHERS is a terrific nonfiction picture book about wildlife conservation and activism. The book includes valuable backmatter including a section on “How to Become a Conservationist,” offering readily-utilized suggestions like growing flowers and plants that provide food for bees, butterflies, and birds. There’s also a section on  “How to Birdwatch Like Harriet,” and a good bibliography. 


On one hand, this is a fun, little picture book biography. On the other hand, life on Earth is being threatened, and can surely benefit from each young reader who grasps what is at stake and who develops an ecological consciousness. Thus, it’s valuable to expose young people to this sort of entertaining, makes-a-lot-of-sense, one-bite book about environmental activism.


Richie Partington, MLIS

Richie's Pickshttp://richiespicks.pbworks.com






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