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BEAKS! by Sneed B. Collard III


by Sneed B. Collard III, illustrated by Robin Brickman

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: July 1st, 2002
ISBN: 1-57091-387-0
Publisher: Charlesbridge

This exploration of bird beaks will fly off the shelf. Collard, a scientist, biologist, and author of over 30 nature titles, including Butterfly Count (p. 101), provides a treasure trove of interesting facts about beaks that peck, probe, crush, tear, tap, skim, scoop, stab, pry, and dig. For instance, the twisted beak of the crossbill is just perfect for prying apart the scales of pinecones to expose the seeds that it laps up with its sticky tongue. Or the large colorful toucan’s beak looks heavy but is really very light because of a honeycomb construction. Some gull beaks change colors as the bird grows older, while puffins shed bright-colored beak decorations each year. The choice of artist was truly brilliant, as it is her work that sets this apart. She provides spectacular watercolor and cut-paper collages that not only complement the text, but should cause gasps of wonder. Many double-page layouts showing birds in their natural environment are suitable for display. The author provides a short quiz to “Test your beak-ability,” inviting the reader to predict what birds eat by looking at their beaks. Includes a bibliography and Web sites for more information. (Nonfiction. 5-9)