On his first solo expedition to find food, a woodpecker named Pierce figures out how to evict a skunk from a log full of juicy bugs.
The story begins with a picture of a mother woodpecker gripping her child in a headlock as the text avers, “Pierce knew that he was old enough to leave the nest.” On the next pages, when Pierce assures his mother he is ready for independence, readers learn a nature fact—the woodpecker’s foraging process: “Find an old tree. Hammer the wood. Eat the yummy bugs.” Pierce then has difficult encounters with several woodland creatures who chase him away from their various nests. Pierce’s apparently clever use of bees as an asset to his campaign to gain access to old trees turns a nominally realistic story into science fiction. Some young readers may enjoy the humor inherent in such exaggerations as a beak accordioned by hammering. The story also allows the youngest children practice in sequencing, as Pierce systematically revisits everyone he has previously seen. The use of realistically portrayed human eyeballs in animals covered with feathers and fur is visually disquieting; an opossum playing dead is particularly grotesque. The best part of the book is at the end, where there are two carefully presented pages of facts about woodpeckers and creative activities centered on the birds.
Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)