Beauty and the Beak
written by Deborah Lee Rose and Jane Veltkamp
2017 (Persnickety Press)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
A bullet had shattered her beak. Her eye was torn and
her face was bleeding. It even hurt for her to breathe.
When I’m at the grocery store, I’m a fan of the 2 for 1 deal. In my parts, it’s known as a BOGO (Buy One, Get One). Why not enjoy two of something for the price of one? How about 3 for 1? What does this have to do with Beauty and the Beak? I mention the BOGO because Beauty is really three books to me, which makes it a valuable resource for readers and teachers. The first part of the book is like an informational text about bald eagles, but in the form of a narrative. Busting the eggshell that holds her in, an eaglet depends on a tuck-in from her mother to protect her from the cold Alaskan wind that comes off the river. In a month, she will be able to stand and tear food with her beak. The beak comes in handy as the eaglet takes care of her feathers. One of the things I learned about eagles was how they shift their feathers to warm up or cool down. Like me adjusting the thermostat in winter against my family’s wishes. They also use oil from a gland near their tails to waterproof their feathers. These are the kinds of facts that hook young readers. Come summer time, the now young eagle will test her wings and find food from the river. The narrative shifts when Beauty, the eagle, has her beak shattered by a bullet. Now readers are drawn into the struggle as Beauty, no longer able to fly or hunt, lingers near death until she is found by a policeman who takes her to a wildlife center. A raptor biologist takes Beauty home to her raptor center and tells people about this injured eagle. One of the people who hears the story is an engineer who thinks he can build a prosthetic beak using a 3-D printer. After many hours of work building the beak and a complicated surgery, Beauty is fitted with a golden yellow beak.
The third part of Beauty and the Beak is sixteen pages of excellent back matter. There’s a Q&A that gives further information about Beauty’s life today and about the use of prosthetic devices. Several more pages of information about eagles are included with a note from the raptor biologist, Janie Veltkamp, who took care of Beauty. At the end are four pages of resources and activities that will be a great help in doing further research. Loaded with information wrapped around an engaging animal story, this is definitely a book that you will want to add to your nonfiction library.
Here’s a link to educator resources connected to Beauty and the Beak.