14:14 PB ELEMENT Blog Review: RHYME – Looking at Vulture View by April Pulley Sayre
(My post # 12 in the 14:14 Picture Book Element Blog challenge conducted by Christie Wild, February 14-28, 2014.)
I am jumping from a 2,754-word picture book review yesterday to a 180-word picture book review today! For this blog review I picked up another fascinating book by April Pulley Sayre, Vulture View. I know personally this bird is intriguing to children. Vultures, or ‘buzzards’ in some areas, are one of the first birds children recognize. They are large and noticeable, they sweep through the skies in ominous silence, and bravely feast on road kill on even the busiest highways. What’s not to love?
The cut-paper illustrations by Steve Jenkins are marvelous, from soaring black wingspreads on cyan skies to the close-ups of those ugly, featherless, beady-eyed, bald magenta heads. And Sayre visits the topic with soaring rhyme, a picture book element which seems to offer these birds a bit of respect for their duty in the life cycle of nature.
“The sun is rising.
It heats the air.
Wings stretch wide
to catch a ride
on warming air.
The author uses internal rhyme and ending rhyme. She employs a casual meter, but avoids any sing-song rhythm by inserting passages that vary in line and meter, so that the content she is relating to first-grade or second-grade readers is not overrun.
“Vultures smell the air.
They sniff, search, seek
for foods that…
The simple rhyme, with a reading level of 1.1, relates only the basic facts about vultures: that they detect carrion by smell, that they clean up the environment by eating dead animals, that they clean themselves, that they roost at night in trees, and that they rise on morning’s warming air to repeat the process.
Nothing more is needed. The book is delightful, and for the teacher or parent there are two pages of more detailed information at the end.
I enjoyed this book, and can’t wait to read it to my 5-year old granddaughter. We’ve viewed buzzards circling above the pasture often, and this will give her a close-up view. I bet, since she’s just starting to recognize sight words, she will attempt some of the verses, and the use of rhyme as an element will encourage and enhance her experience with this exploration of these big, black, ominous birds she sees in her own southern skies.
What roles do you think the element of rhyme can play in our writing? What benefit is there to the reader? I’d love for you to share in your comments.