A Peek at Beaks: Tools Birds Use

by Sara Levine (Author) Kate Slater (Illustrator)

A Peek at Beaks: Tools Birds Use
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Have you ever seen a bird using a jackhammer? What about one scooping up a meal with a net? Of course birds can't really use tools, at least not the way humans do. But birds have surprisingly helpful tools with them at all times--their beaks! Guess which birds have beaks resembling commonly used tools in this playful picture book from award-winning author Sara Levine. Delightfully detailed collage artwork by Kate Slater helps this book take flight!

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Kirkus Reviews

A useful addition to the nature shelf. (further reading) (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Copyright 2021 Kirkus Reviews, LLC Used with Permission

School Library Journal

Starred Review

K-Gr 3--How are birds' beaks like common tools? This question/answer picture book features a whimsical silhouette of a generic bird with a tool in place of its beak and asks what bird could this be with a jackhammer, tweezers, or a nutcracker for a beak? Readers then turn the page to discover that the bird with the nutcrackerlike beak is a beautiful red backyard bird, the cardinal; the wren uses its beaklike tweezers to pick up tiny insects; and woodpeckers hammer through tree bark to get at the grubs underneath. One bird may be featured for each tool, but similar birds are grouped together in the vibrant, full-color illustration of its use, e.g., sparrows and juncos with the cardinal. This creative way to look at birds and how they differ in order to thrive in their habitat may very well awaken rural and urban young readers alike to the avian world. The Q&A format is fun to read aloud or for a participatory story time. Information on the evolution of these specialized beaks and suggestions for further reading are included. VERDICT Recommend for every collection as an entertaining and informative introduction to the world of birds and how they survive and thrive.--Frances E. Millhouser, formerly at Fairfax County P.L., VA

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Bird beaks work like human tools.

With a guessing game that will engage young readers, this simple but effective title demonstrates how the distinctive beaks of different bird species reflect the ways they use them. Each right-hand page asks readers to guess the kind of bird whose bill is shaped like a particular tool: a straw, a strainer, needlenose pliers, and so forth. The bird is shown in silhouette with the tool where its beak would be. A page turn reveals the answer. Hummingbirds have beaks that are long and hollow like straws, allowing them to poke deep into narrow blossoms for nectar. Slater's collage illustrations show recognizable examples, along with other birds with similar beaks, both labeled and named in an added, asterisked note. The circles of light surrounding the silhouettes are repeated in the circles around the notes, a pleasing bit of design. Finally, the author suggests some other uses for beaks besides eating, concluding with gannets, who show affection by clapping their beaks together. She suggests that readers do the same with their hands to show their affection for birds. The illustrator thoughtfully depicts a Black girl bird-watcher and younger White boy doing just that, by the light of a circular moon. The backmatter extends the exploration of beak differences to introduce the idea of evolutionary change over time.

A useful addition to the nature shelf.—Kirkus Reviews

— "Journal" (8/15/2021 12:00:00 AM)
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
September 20, 2021

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