cover image Vulture View

Vulture View

April Pulley Sayre, , illus. by Steve Jenkins. . Holt, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-7557-1

Sayre (Hush, Little Puppy ) and Jenkins (Living Color ) buoyantly approach a subject that usually receives a straight and narrow treatment. Instead of a parade of facts, the author deftly employs patterned verse to explore the standout attributes of the turkey vulture (it catches warm air currents to soar, eats carrion, etc.). ”Vultures smell the air./ They sniff, search, seek/ for foods that... Reek !/ Those fragrant flowers?/ No, no./ That spicy smoke?/ No, no./ That stinky dead deer?/ Yes, yes!” Jenkins brings his exquisite brand of paper collage to this hero of the food chain; here the vulture’s striated black and gray wings (and sometimes just their silhouettes) contrast against a brilliant cerulean sky that dominates several spreads. The artist’s exacting hand can be seen in the ultra-fine shading on the birds’ magenta heads or the carcasses (never gory in presentation) that signal dinner for the soaring scavengers. Endnotes delve into more detail, explaining such questions as why the birds can safely eat rotten meat (their bodies can sterilize decomposing food). Celebrating the majesty of an underappreciated creature, this volume should attract a wide audience both for its fascinating content and sprightly execution. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)