Nights of the Pufflings (book cover)

Nights of the Pufflings

My Most Honored and Award Winning Book

Hardcover: Available
Softcover: Available

Mál og menning / Icelandic Publisher
Click for Icelandic Publisher's Home Page

Bruce's Thirty-second Book

1995 - US / Houghton Mifflin
Hardcover ISBN 0-395-70810-9
Softcover ISBN 0-395-85693-0

1997 - Iceland / Mál og menning
Icelandic ISBN 9979-3-1500-8
German ISBN 9979-9-1868-6
English ISBN 9979-3-1503-2
Icelandic / Íslenska
German / Deutsche
The Puffling Rescue
Awards and Honors Icelandic Pronunciation Fourth Graders Poems
Nights of the Pufflings Rescue Game
Icelandic Translator Trivia Question
Personal Note
Update/ in Iceland
Visit the Library
Recommended Island Book
See Halla Today

"Nonfiction at its best:
satisfying, stimulating
and inspiring."

The Kobrin Letter, September 1995

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Awards and Honors

American Library Association Notable Book, 1996

Parents' Choice Honor Book, 1995
Certificate of Excellence - Parenting magazine, 1995
"Crisp, colorful photographs help tell the utterly charming true story."

A Best Book of the Year - School Library Journal
, 1995

A Children's Book of Distinction - Hungry Mind Review
, 1996,
"Bruce McMillan shows how the children of Heimaey help the young pufflings make it back to the sea, avoiding dangers introduced by civilization on the island."

A Best Kids' Book of the Year - Crayola Kids magazine
, 1995

A Few Good Books selection - Booklinks magazine
, 1995

A Blue Ribbon Book - The Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books
, 1995

Children's Literature Annual Top Choice List
, 1996

First photo-illustrated book featured on the cover of The Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books
, 1995

First photo-illustrated book featured on the cover of The Horn Book Guide
, 1996

Star Review - School Library Journal
, 1995
- to full review below -

Star Review - The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
, 1995
- to review excerpt below -

Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children - National Science Teachers Association / Children's Book Council
, 1996

A Lupine Honor Book - Maine Librarians Association, 1996

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The Puffling Rescue

The Puffling Patrol with Bruce the Rescuer Psyjueftirlitið með Brúsa Bjargfasta Vestmannaeyjar Iceland

The Puffling Patrol with Bruce the Rescuer Psyjueftirlitið með Brúsa Bjargfasta Vestmannaeyjar Iceland.

Read all about it.

To the Rescue
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Personal Note

If there is one book that I'll be remembered for, it will be this one. I use this when teaching, since I feel it is some of my best writing. It is a book that has won more honors and awards than any other, but most importantly it's the book that in the making of it introduced me to Iceland and my Icelandic friends. If I could go back to any one place in the world where I've photographed a book, it would be Iceland, and it is. I go there as often as I can.

I have watched Halla, the cute little puffling rescuer, grow into a nice young lady. In 1998 Halla came to the United States on her own to visit in Maine. She got to go to a US school, play miniature golf, go to the New England Aquarium, and take her first subway ride. I took her to my local library where our librarians, including Marlene Parent, head librarian, were delighted to meet Halla. In 2000, after I’d visited Halla and her family in Iceland during the summer, her parents, Ólafur Ólafsson and Jakobina Vilhemsdóttir, visited me in Maine early that fall. When I took them sightseeing around Maine they were pleased and proud to see Halla on the cover of the book displayed at the Jordan Pond House in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Trivia Question:
What do the books Ulysses by James Joyce, Nights of the Pufflings, Days of the Ducklings, and My Horse of the North all have in common? Click here for the answer.

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See Halla in photos
taken the summer of
Arnar (ATT-nahr) was the young boy in this book. See Arnar's little bother (right) in a typical Icelandic web page made by their proud parents on the island where the book takes place. July 16, 2004

Arnar's little bother
on Vestmannaeyjar,
the book's island.

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Puffling Island Book
A Great Pictoral Book about the Nights of the Pufflings Island is:

Rúriksson, Björn. The Westmann Islands. Reykjavík: Geoscan. ISBN 9979-56-008-8. 160 color photographs.

You may have difficulty getting it but you might order it fro
m Mál og menning, the largest bookstore in Iceland:
Click for Mál og menning home page

"This book is an attempt to examine the world of the Westmann Islanders in all their diversity and color. The Westmann Islands and their inhabitants are geographically separated from the rest of the country in a very real manner. Although not so very distant from the mainland, the Westmann Islands are, nevertheless, off the beaten track. To the outsider the Westmann Islands presents a very diverse community in which jobs and work, as well as the arts and communal activities, form a well-defined framework to a vigorous way of life. On top of all this is the outstanding natural beauty with its varied landscape and wildlife which makes the islands a popular stopping place for shorter or longer visits.

Few places are as exciting from an historical or geological point of view. The unique struggle for survival during the eruption in the winter of 1973 is unlikely to be forgotten by those who experienced it personally, or were in some way involved. As a bird watcher's paradise, the Westmann Islands enthralls nature lovers who can enjoy it in solitude or on conducted tours on land and sea with expert and informative guides."

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On a tiny island off the coast of Iceland, Halla and her friends wait with anticipation. Every spring, millions of puffins, the clowns of the sea, return to nest, lay eggs, and raise their chicks to pufflings. That means Halla and her friends will be busy in August when the pufflings venture out at night to take their first flight. Then, all of the children stay out all night, too. During the nights of the pufflings they rescue thousands of stranded young birds, and in the daytime set them safely free at the beach. Nights of the Pufflings captures the unique and endearing story of an island tradition.

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Hint: Choose "open/play" and not "save-to-disk" if asked.
Icelandic Word in Book ~

(book title) Pysjunætur ~
(the boy's name) Arnar Ingi ~
(type of flower) Baldusbrá ~
(fish) fisk ~
(the girl's name) Halla ~
(the island's name) Heimaey ~
(puffin) Lundi ~
(puffling) lundi pysja ~

(one) Einn ~
(two) Tveir ~
(three) Prir ~
Sounds Like


ATT-nar ING-ee
LOON-dih PEESH-yah


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Icelandic Translation

I am fortunate to have noted Icelandic author Sigurður (SIG ur thur) A. Magnusson translate three of my books into Icelandic. Nights of the Pufflings (Psyjunætur) was the first. Not only was he the translator for it, but he also introduced me to his publisher which led to its publication. Sigurður and I met in a chance meeting at a restaurant on Heimaey, the island where I photographed the book. Iceland is a small community. Here he is at home in his Reykjavík apartment, a view of the Perlan in the distance.

So, what do the books Ulysses, Nights of the Pufflings, Days of the Ducklings, and My Horse of the North all have in common? They were all translated into Icelandic by Sigurður A. Magnusson.

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School Library Journal
Starred Review
March 1995

"An extremely handsome photo essay"

McMillan, Bruce.
Nights of the Pufflings.
photos. by author. 32p. CIP. Houghton.
Mar. 1995. Tr $14.95.
ISBN 0-395-70810-9. LC 94-14808.

Gr. 1-4 - An extremely handsome photo essay that shows a breeding season in a colony of North Atlantic puffins on Heimaey, largest of the Westmann Islands off the southwest coast of Iceland. McMillan hangs his informative text on the framework of young Halla and her friends, who await the first flight of the pufflings with eager joy. Many of these fledglings fail to reach the sea on this maiden flight, landing in Halla's village below the cliffs. Here the children wait, armed with cardboard boxes and flashlights, racing to rescue the pufflings before they become prey for cats or dogs or run over by passing vehicles. Staying up all night, sleeping late into the morning, the children spend two unusual weeks rescuing thousands of baby birds and releasing them to the sea. McMillan's crisp full-color photos record courting and nesting behavior of the puffins and the activities of the children waiting for and performing their rescues. A fine book to foster empathy in young people as well as to inform them, and to show them that children can make a difference in the world. Patricia Manning, Eastchester Public Library, NY

This copyrighted © review originally appeared in School Library Journal and appears here with permission.

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
March 1995 Vol. 48 No. 7, excerpt

"McMillan at his finest."

Any book about puffins, with their colorful faces and generally comical appearance, is likely to have a certain charm. Not many photographers, however, have the technical and artistic skills of McMillan at his finest. Though he cannot show the newborn puffins, he makes up for it with shots of the adults with beaks clamped tightly on the catch of day, and he perfectly captures a puffin swooping in for a landing. The island scenery gives him crisp hues in the sky, grassy cliffs, snowy mountains, and sparkling seas. The Icelandic gene pool provides platinum blond pink-cheeked, blue-eyed schoolchildren (no adults are shown), wearing their thick multicolored sweaters on August nights. Even the nighttime pictures are vivid and dramatic, and they give us our first close-up shots of the pufflings.

For a photographer, McMillan can sure write a picture-book text, gaining our interest in the puffins with tidbits about their lives while foreshadowing the mysterious "nights of the pufflings" still to come. He works in a few Icelandic words with their pronunciations (Halla, for instance, is pronounced HATTL - lah), and carefully avoids any pitfalls of anthropomorphizing the birds or making the kids into cutie-pies or superchildren. McMillan doesn't burden the text with too much information, but he fills in, on the verso of the title page, when, where, and how the pictures were taken, and he concludes with a page of puffin facts and a brief bibliography of (mostly) adult books.

The Horn Book Magazine
July/August 1995

"This fascinating story, combined with gorgeous color photographs, a simple clear text, and handsome book design, makes an appealing package."

Bruce McMillan, Author-Photographer Nights of the Pufflings 32 pp. Houghton 3/95 ISBN 0-395-70810-9 14.95 (Younger)

Each spring, on a tiny island off the coast of Iceland, millions of puffins arrive to lay their eggs and raise their chicks. Halla and her friends watch for the puffins' return and wait for the summer and the "nights of the pufflings." The Icelandic children watch the puffins as they spend the summer feeding and protecting the young chicks, which remain hidden in underground nests. In August, when the baldusbrá flower is in full bloom, the children go out at night with cardboard boxes and flashlights to help the young pufflings make it safely to the ocean, where they will spend the winter. Each night for two weeks pufflings leave their burrows for the first time to make their first flights. Many land safely in the sea, while others set off in the wrong direction and land in the village. The children rescue the pufflings, who cannot take off from the flat ground and are likely to be run over by cars or caught by cats and dogs, and release them on the beach. The story of Halla, her friends, and their puffling rescue is a delightful and unusual one in which children make a real difference in their natural environment. Young readers have a natural affinity for the young of other species, and this fascinating story, combined with gorgeous color photographs, a simple clear text, and handsome book design, makes an appealing package. McMillan includes the pronunciation of unfamiliar Icelandic names and words within the text and follows his story with an afterword about the North Atlantic puffins. M.V.K.

This copyrighted © review originally appeared in The Horn Book Magazine and appears here with permission.

San Diego Union
May 6 1995

"There's something timeless and wonderful about youth rescuing youth on the shores of the sea. McMillan must have sensed it, as he has surely captured the wonder in living color and well-chosen words."

Maine Sunday Telegram
June 4, 1995

"As a photo-illustrator, McMillan is in a class by himself."

Maine Sunday Telegram
July 14, 1996

"A touching, delightfully delicate book from the Shapleigh author and photographer McMillan, equally meaningful to Maine children and adults."

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Student Poems

These two student poems were presented to me on my speaking visit to Elmcrest Elementary in the spring of 2001. They were inspired by my book and the poems accurately capture the spirit of the puffling nights. I'm so impressed by these writers. One would think the writers had actually been to the puffling nights in Iceland. I was touched that they traveled there in my book - and brought back so much.

The Night of the Pufflings
by Claire Broton
Fourth Grade, spring 2001
Elmcrest Elementary (web site)
Liverpool, New York

Here come the kids!
Here come the crowds!
Here come the birds!
Out of the clouds!

Thousands of birds,
Fall to the ground!
Oh how afraid!
The little birds sound!

The kids are all ready,
With boxes and lights,
It's the beginning,
Of the puffling nights!

Night of the Pufflings
by Rickey Whitney
Fourth Grade, spring 2001
Elmcrest Elementary (web site)
Liverpool, New York

Nights of the pufflings, a night of danger,
Don't be afraid in the arms of a stranger.
Nights of the pufflings, a marvelous night,
Forget all your worries. Forget all your fright.

The dogs and cats are hunting.
We are too. Don't be afraid when we try to save you.
They're flying too high. They're flying too low.
They're going to crash. Look out below.

The pufflings are coming from near and far.
Don't worry little pufflings, we know where you are.
We're going to find you, so don't you fret.
We're going to find you, so get set.

Good night little pufflings. Have a safe journey.
Come back next year, and we will hear
Of the night of the pufflings, so see you next year.

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