Saturday, May 23, 2015

Woodpecker Wham! A Book Review

I was so excited when I saw April Pulley Sayre was coming out with a new book on woodpeckers. I have admired her other books, checking out all that she has to offer from our local library. When I realized that I was the one with Vulture View  checked out as I wondered who checked out the same books as me, I knew I had to go ahead and buy it. I like the simple, yet VERY informative writing that engages the reader. I do many nature programs for young children and adults. The words are interactive and engaging. Woodpecker Wham! delivers the same vibe. As a plus, it is set in a similar habitat to our area.

I have enjoyed getting to know the different woodpeckers in our midwest area. We put suet cakes out sometimes to attract them even more, yet also see them frequently as we live in a very wooded area. I found it curious that the jacket cover is quite different from the hardcover of the book. Both are gorgeous! I am VERY impressed with the illustrator's ability to truly show the details on these birds with cut paper and paint. Check out those feet on the pileated woodpecker! It's neat to see that flash of red in the woods behind our house.

Each page has about 4 lines of text, with three to four words each. It doesn't sound like much, yet each word is carefully chosen to teach about the birds. Rhyming words help with the message. The illustrations support the words with great detail. Action and/or sound words help bring the book to life as they are read, giving an interactive aspect to the pages. The author shows how red bellied woodpeckers communicate through tapping on trees, insect are eaten, holes are drilled for sap, bird clean, hollow cleaned out, eat berries, babies crack eggs, feeding fledglings, storing acorns, and making a hole in a tree. I am amazed at how much she packs in with so few words. 

At the end, she gives more detailed information on woodpeckers in general, sharing information on chisel shaped beaks, how they hitch and hop, send instant messages, use their tongues, how seeds pass through their digestive tract, how many survive in one forest, attracting woodpeckers to our yards, keeping secure homes, raising families, and more! There are also labeled illustrations of all the woodpeckers that are highlighted at the back of the book. 

Personally, I will use this book for my own understanding of woodpeckers and in programs with children in preschool through grade 4 or so, realizing that it is a picture book. While it's simple, it teaches so much. A simple read aloud can have a big impact on children. I read her book, Vulture View, on a hike with adults one time and a turkey vulture soared above our heads. I could see the adults gliding along with the turkey vulture as I read. Reading these books to adults can reinforce the concepts presented.

See a pileated woodpecker in action here
See pictures from the book here
Here is April Pulley Sayre's website


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