Review of Harriet’s Ruffled Feathers: The Woman Who Saved Millions of Birds

Harriet’s Ruffled Feathers: The Woman Who Saved Millions of Birds Harriet’s Ruffled Feathers: The Woman Who Saved Millions of Birds
by Joy McCullough; illus. by Romina Galotta
Primary, Intermediate    Atheneum    40 pp.    g
3/22    978-1-5344-8676-8    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5344-8677-5    $10.99

Harriet Lawrence Hemenway “loved a hat,” especially ones with “grand glorious feathers.” That is, until she read a Boston Daily Globe newspaper story in 1896 about the millions of birds that died for fashionable hats such as hers. With help from her cousin Minna B. Hall, Hemenway began a boycott of feathered fashions, promoting her views at tea parties held for society ladies and via leaflets and lectures, persuading more than nine hundred Boston women to join the cause. That same year the two cousins helped found the ­Massachusetts Audubon Society, dedicated to the protection of birds; by its second year, the organization was in more than ten states and soon was influencing laws and leaders. Back matter explains how today the National Audubon Society “has more than four hundred local chapters across the country” and “reaches millions of people each year.” This inspiring story of one woman’s ability to enact change (despite not yet having the right to vote) is well served by McCullough’s succinct, playful storytelling style, featuring lots of avian wordplay. Galotta’s delicate and colorful watercolor illustrations are highly detailed; defined lines help accentuate both high-society refinement and beauty in the natural world. Appended with a bibliography and tips on “How to Bird-watch like Harriet,” “How to Make Your Own (Pretend) Binoculars,” and “How to Be a Conservationist.”

From the March/April 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Cynthia K. Ritter
Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is managing editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons University. She served on the 2019 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award committee.

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