November 24, 2017

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When I Was a Turkey by Joe Hutto | SLJ Review

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redstarHUTTO, Joe with Brenda Z. Guiberson. When I Was a Turkey: Based on the PBS Documentary My Life as a Turkey. illus. by Joe Hutto. 192p. bibliog. glossary. photos. Holt. Nov. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781627793858.

Gr 5-8 –Based on an Emmy Award–winning documentary of the same name, this describes the two years the naturalist and author spent as a wild turkey mother. Having been given two clutches of wild turkey eggs rescued from Florida’s flatwoods, Hutto incubated the eggs and made sure that he was the first thing each chick made eye contact with when it hatched. With the imprint complete, he became a full-time caretaker, supplying their physical needs and protecting them as best he could. Despite his concentrated efforts, some would fall prey to predators. In the process of becoming a turkey mother, Hutto took extensive notes and made detailed drawings of his flock. The text describes many of the day-to-day activities for turkeys, such as eating grasshoppers, finding snakes, and determining which snakes to be afraid of as well as foraging for berries and meeting other wild turkeys. At the same time, Hutto learned to “speak turkey.” The text reads easily and is liberally illustrated with his excellent pencil drawings. Many black-and-white photos are also included. VERDICT This title is well done, and should be a first choice for libraries needing middle grade nonfiction materials.–Eldon Younce, Anthony Public Library, KS

This review was published in the School Library Journal September 2017 issue.

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