Children's Authors/April Pulley Sayre
'April Pulley Sayre' has written over 55 books for children and adults. Her books have been translated into French, Dutch, Japanese, and Korean and have received many awards including the Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor Award, which is given annually to recognize authors and illustrators who demonstrate creativity and imagination to engage children in reading. Sayre certainly does that. She also received the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books, ALA Notable Children's Books, and Britain's highest literary award, the Riverbank Review Children's Book of Distinction (http://www.aprilsayre.com/about-me/). She visits over 15,000 children nationwide each year as part of her school visits program, introducing them to her love of nature, the writing process, and the desire to investigate on their own. Articles written by Sayre have appeared in World, Ranger Rick, Earth Explorer Encyclopedia, and in science curricula.
Sayre was born April 11, 1966 in Greenville, South Carolina. She reports that as a child she spent hours picking flowers, watching insects and birds, and reading and writing. When writing her books, she tries to communicate the excitement she feels about nature and also her fascination with how scientists discover how nature works (Candlewick Press). Sayre and her husband, Jeff, work together and play together. They are both naturalists who explore and write about the natural world. They lead ecotours and travel extensively to study, photograph, and videotape animals in the rain forests of Panama, Madagascar, and Ecuador. They also speak at schools, botanical gardens, zoos, and nature festivals.
Sayre has a Bachelor's in Biology from Duke University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College (Akron Beacon Journal, Apr. 2010).
The language in Sayre's books is art at its best. It is as soft and lovely as the illustrations (Hurst, 1999)-- the caribou herd moves "like a river of antlers" and the butterfly moves "one flutter and flap at a time." She writes about the birds she loved watching as a child. She writes about small insects, birds, and unusual or often overlooked species, in a way that immerses young readers in new worlds of creativity and perspective. She uses rhythm and imagery to bring out the poetry in nature. Facts are presented simply yet beautifully so that young children are enthralled, while older readers are captivated by the depth of her knowledge. Her books casually invite readers in so they experience the sights and sounds of the stories for themselves. Expert use of onomatopoeia and punctuation helps extend the natural magic of language in these delightful books. "Sharing wonder and often humor is what my work is all about" (Candlewick Press).
Sayers' advice to young writers and nature lovers is to read a lot, write a lot, and grab a hand lens and go outdoors (www.aprilsayre.com).
Books of Interest
Stars Beneath Your Bed The Surprising Story of Dust, published in 2005, is a fascinating story of how the dust one sees today connects us to dinosaurs, asteroids, and King Tut. This book uses distinct images and color which seems to leap off the page to attract a child's attention. The text is written in poetic form with expressive typesetting to hook children into wanting to read every word. Back matter provides more in-depth information about dust and sunsets for the more inquisitive reader.
Army Ant Parade, published in 2002, chronicles the effect a parade of army ants has on its habitat and particularly on the other animals that live in a Panama rain forest. As Sayer describes what the forest sounds and looks like when army ants are near, she also adds interesting facts about the various inhabitants of the rainforest. The musical language makes this book a fun read-aloud, while the illustrations beg for closer inspection into this spectacle. At the back of the book there is a more in-depth look at army ants for those who want to know more.
The Bumblebee Queen, published in 2005, outlines the life of the colony queen as she goes through the processes of choosing an ideal setting for a nest, selecting the best nectar, populating her colony, and performing her other duties through the seasons. This book features large, easy to read print for early readers and also smaller, more complex text which could be shared during a read-aloud. Like Army Ant Parade, more in-depth information is given at the back, along with suggested activities and resources for further investigating.
Shadows, published in 2002, uses a favorite topic to capture our imagination. Rhyming words and descriptive language give life to the shadows at the beach while outlining the natural characteristics of shadow. The shapes and colors of key words add a multimodal aspect which causes the phrases to dance across the page as the images dance through our minds. The gentle words blend with the warm illustrations to create a soothing scientific experience.
Bird, Bird, Bird! (A Chirping Chant), published in 2007, is an excellent book to explore multiple meanings of various words used in avian vocabulary. The illustrations in this delightful book enhance the text considerably; a kingbird wears a crown, a shoveler carries a spade. The illustrations are somewhat satirical and should not be expected to be accurate depictions of these birds in their natural habitat. Sayre uses a catchy rhythm to name the birds, and includes a glossary with explicit information about each bird named.
Honk, Honk, Goose! Canada Geese Start a Family, published in 2009, utilizes the narrative language of Army Ant Parade and Stars Beneath Your Bed, while at the same time connecting readers through its informational format. This complex topic would be easily comprehensible by young readers. It contains delightful onomatopoeia in both words and phrases, and it shows the protectiveness of a father goose and the dedication of the mother. Similar to The Bumblebee Queen, the final pages are full of in-depth information followed by an invitation to young readers to be the first to do a long-term study of goose behavior.
Trout, Trout, Trout! (A Fish Chant), published in 2004, uses the same format as Bird, Bird Bird! (A Chirping Chant) as it recites the names of these American fish. Children will positively delight in the antics of the personable fish, and will beg for the names to be chanted time and again. The amusing fish names, Frecklebelly Tom, Bigmouth Buffalo, and Spoonhead Sculpin, to name a few, will invite them to investigate further into the mysteries of the sea. Back information describes what each fish looks like, where it lives, and outstanding characteristics.
April Sayer's website http://www.aprilsayre.com/
Hurst, C. O. (1999). Spring Book Surprises. Teaching PreK-8, 29(7),80-81.
Book links, worksheets, and activities http://www.aprilsayre.com/educator-resources
Books by April Sayre http://childrensauthors.in.gov/index.php?page=Sayre,%20April%20Pulley
Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books http://bccb.lis.illinois.edu/0402rise.html
biography of books http://isbndb.com/d/person/sayre_april_pulley/books.html?start_item=81
Akron Beacon Journal (April, 2010) Winner of Theodore Seusse Geisel award http://www.ohio.com/community/readernews/community/13844327.html