By Guest Blogger Dudley Carlson
immediately imprinted on Joe, who became their "mother" for the next year or more. His experience as an anthropologist informs his daily observations as the little turkeys learn how to feed, search for food, fly, and eventually to live on their own as adults. It's dramatic, it's informative, and it's a deep look into the relationship that can exist between humans and animals.
In his book All About Turkeys, Jim Arnosky presents the wild turkey in large, colorful pictures for very young children, pointing out fine details of anatomy and feathering, feeding and nesting. Large-scale paintings allow him to identify details like leg spurs and the caruncle (described in smaller type, so that they can be skipped for very young listeners).
In Wild Turkey, Tame Turkey, a book for somewhat older readers, Dorothy Hinshaw Patent uses text and photos for a fuller portrait of the turkey, including its North American history of domestication by the Aztecs and transport to Europe by early Spanish explorers, its domestication in Europe and the gradual development of a major industry in the United States.
For the full Thanksgiving experience, start early. Read Arnosky aloud to the little ones and hand the other two to older siblings to read aloud or to themselves. Or read When I Was a Turkey aloud at bedtime, a chapter a night for a couple of weeks. Then on Turkey Day, after the morning hike, the cooking and feasting, the parade and the football and the family conversation, put the PBS documentary on and watch together as a man quite literally becomes a mother to 23 little turkeys and they become, just as literally, his family. It's amazing and wonderful - and something else to be thankful for.
SFBBO member Dudley Carlson, a biologist’s daughter, grew up in a family of birders and was Manager of Youth Services at Princeton (NJ) Public Library for 25 years. She believes that if children enjoy learning about birds and understand how important they are to our environment, then birds, nature and people will have a better chance at a healthy future.
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