Unbeatable Beaks - for teachers

Unbeatable Beaks cover

Illustrated by Robin Brickman.
Published by Millbrook Press, 1996.
Hardcover 1-56294-182-8.

Book Description

Have you ever wondered why birds have different shaped beaks? Many beaks are long and pointy while others are round and smooth. Some beaks have ridges; there are even beaks shaped like spoons. Birds can do the most amazing things with their beaks, from cracking open a shell to turning an egg. It’s all in a day’s work.

Stephen Swinburne’s lyrical, chant-along text and Joan Paley’s stunning paper collage illustrations introduce young children to a variety of wonderfully distinctive bird beaks of all shapes, sizes and colors.

How I was inspired

This book has taught me to keep my “ears and eyes open” since you never know when you will get an idea for a book. One day a few years ago, I was coming out of my house when I heard “tap, tap, tap, tap, tap!” I looked up at the old apple tree out back and saw a woodpecker pecking away at the bark trying to uncover some bugs. While watching this woodpecker work away for its breakfast, I started thinking that how much its beak was like a hammer or chisel. I then thought how beaks are really like tools and that they are pretty unbeatable. That’s when I went upstairs and began my poem, UNBEATABLE BEAKS.

Book Features

  • Cut-paper illustrations
  • Author’s note
  • Rhyming poetry
  • Match bird with its beak game at end of book
  • Glossary

Classroom Connections

  • Identify animal adaptations.
  • Create your own animal “rap”.
  • Perform the book as if it were a poem written for two voices.
  • Make a list of tasks that are performed by different beaks.

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