Texas Reads>> archiveGlenn Dromgoole
Crows, buzzards and coyotes
featured in children’s books
Crows, buzzards, and coyotes might seem like unlikely characters to feature in a children’s book, but two Texas authors have done just that in their new volumes.
Veteran children’s author Kathi Appelt of College Station has two new picture books -- one featuring crows, the other featuring coyotes.
Counting Crows (Simon and Schuster, $17.99 hardcover, illustrated by Rob Dunlavy) is a read-aloud counting book for young children. In fact, I intend to read it to my three-year-old granddaughter next week. It’s a fun book, counting from one to twelve black crows dressed in red and white sweaters.
Appelt’s other picture book, When Otis Courted Mama (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 hardcover) features Cordell the coyote and his mama and deals with divorced and blended family concerns. Cordell gets along just fine with his perfectly good daddy and perfectly good mama, even though they now live on opposite sides of the desert and daddy has remarried.
Cordell lives most of the time with mama, and other coyotes come courting her. He doesn’t much like them, and at first he doesn’t much like the latest one, Otis, either. But that might change.
Now, to the buzzards, or rather turkey vultures. In her first novel, Austin author Marge Wood puts them at the heart of her story for young readers (ten and up), The Secret Buzzard Society (Comburg Castle Press, $9.95 paperback).
Wood’s four main characters – all twelve-year-olds -- form the Secret Buzzard Society with a motto, “Just be kind.” The main organizer, Ingrid, is fascinated by turkey vultures, and she and best friend Ruby even organize a science fair project about them.
Another friend, Stanley, is also a turkey vulture fanatic, and he makes movies about them. The fourth member of the group is Miguel, who is from Mexico. He’s living with his aunt and uncle while his father, an “undocumented worker,” works on a nearby ranch and tries to keep from being deported by the Border Patrol.
All this takes place in the fictional small town of Chert, located between Abilene and Sweetwater. When I read about Chert, I immediately thought of Trent, and it turns out that’s where Wood placed it in her mind.
The four Buzzard Society members are not exactly popular with their classmates – in fact, they’re considered rather weird. Imagine that!
But one day in the school lunchroom, after being shunned, Ingrid suggests, “I say we start a buzzard club, and any time we see someone being treated like a buzzard, we do something friendly for them.” Readers of The Secret Buzzard Society will not only learn a lot about turkey vultures but something about how to treat people as well. I plan to give the book to my ten-year-old granddaughter. I think she’ll like it.
Wood is available for school and library presentations and book signings. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
She has several book signings scheduled, including:
Saturday, March 28, 3 p.m., Cameron Public Library
Saturday, April 4, 2-4 p.m., Half Price Books, 2929 S. Lamar, Austin
Sunday, April 12, 2-4 p.m., It’s About Thyme, 11726 Manchaca Road, Austin
Saturday, April 18, 2-4 p.m., Texas Star Trading Company, Abilene