Friday, December 14, 2007

Book Review - Vulture View

We've all seen them, with their dark plumage, featherless heads and hooked beaks, circling, circling something in the the distance. Road kill for breakfast? Don't mind if I do. Yes, I'm talking about vultures, and so is April Pulley Sayre in her informative and poetic (absolutely) book Vulture View.

I know that right now some of you are saying, "Gross! Why would I want to learn about these disgusting birds?" Here's my response. First, vultures are incredibly clean birds, bathing and preening regularly. Second, and more importantly, vultures are a vital part of our natural environment, cleaning up dead carcasses and decreasing the spread of some diseases. Third, they're just plain interesting.

In rhythmic, precise text, Sayre teaches us much about the amazing turkey vulture. Here's an excerpt on how they find their food.
Vultures smell the air.
They sniff, search, seek
for foods that . . .
(turn the page)
. . . REEK!

Those fragrant flowers?
No, no.

That spicy smoke?
No, no.

That stinky dead deer?
Yes, yes!
Readers learn that vultures soar on thermals, taking to the air as it warms, returning to roost in the trees as air cools. The book ends with a section entitled Get To Know Vultures, with the Subsections: (1) Soaring Up, Up, Up!; (2) The Vulture Family; (3) Nature's Cleanup Crew; (4) Family Life and Range; and (5) Heads Up, Young Scientists. It is packed with information and even includes a link to the Turkey Vulture Society's web site, as well as information on festivals that celebrate vultures/buzzards.

The book works on many levels, not only because of the strength of the writing, but also the beauty of the illustrations. Steve Jenkins has done a masterful job portraying the world of the vulture. The paper used for the collages are handmade gems that add depth to the images. I can't say enough about how lovely this book is. Elementary kids of all ages will appreciate the book, and teachers will find it makes a wonderful addition to lessons on the food chain. I highly recommend this title.

Book: Vulture View
Author: April Pulley Sayre
Illustrator: Steve Jenkins
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Publication Date: October 2, 2007
Pages: 32
Grades: K-5
ISBN-10: 0805075577
ISBN-13: 978-0805075571
Source of Book: Personal copy purchased for Cybils consideration


  1. I'd just finished posting my photos of black vultures when I ventured to you site and read more about vultures. I'm definitely gonna mention this book to our media specialist!

  2. Thank you for pointing out this book. Last year my kids took part as young members of the RSPB (in the UK)in helping to raise money for their appeal for the Asian Vultures, which have been brought near to extinction beacuse of the veterinary drug Diclofenac... I think they would love this book and I must look out for it.

  3. Oh this sounds great! I do like vultures. I anxiously follow every scrap of news regarding the Asian vulture situation...