April Pulley Sayre's Blog

May 12, 2015

WoodpeckerWham_cvr_lorezWoodpecker Wham! was released today by Henry Holt. So excited to have this third collaboration with illustrator Steve Jenkins, thanks to Holt. (You can support our work to share nature and science with kids via our other two titles, as well: Vulture View and Eat Like a Bear.)

Hope to see some of you at School Library Journal’s Day of Dialog in NYC where I’ll be on a nature books panel with Paul Fleischman, Wendell Minor, Louis Sachar, and Anita Silvey.


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Published on May 12, 2015 13:55 • 11 views

February 16, 2015

Book love! A great review in Bookpage and a third star for Raindrops Roll (Beach Lane/S&S), this time in Publisher’s Weekly. Woodpecker Wham, with Steve Jenkins, will be released May 15 and was recently reviewed by Kirkus. I’m just back from three weeks photographing creatures in FL beaches and wetlands. Can hardly wait to share the FL photos with you, readers. This year I’m going to update my website to make it more interactive. In the meantime, “Like” my facebook author page April Pulley Sayreand from there I’ll keep you updated on when the new interactive site is ready. Other recent blog reviews and interviews on Richie’s PicksSeven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, and Think Quick Interview.

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Published on February 16, 2015 08:55 • 27 views
Woodpecker Wham!

Illustrated by Steve Jenkins, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, May 12, 2014.

“Repetitive onomatopoeic sounds such as ‘CHOP, CHIP, CHOP’ and ‘BONK-BONK-BONK’ combine with plentiful alliteration to make the simple verses come alive . . . Attractive and surprisingly informative, this should join the duo’s Eat Like a Bear (2013) on every preschool and primary nature shelf.”


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Published on February 16, 2015 08:36 • 15 views
Raindrops Roll

Text and photos by April Pulley Sayre. Beach Lane Books/S&S, January, 2015. Ages 3-8.

“With lyrical words and striking images, a poet, photographer, and veteran natural history writer celebrates rain . . . Preschoolers can appreciate the poem and pictures, but middle graders will want the facts in the concluding ‘Splash of Science’ . . . Wonder-full in every way.    -Starred Review, Kirkus

“In playful rhymes and breathtaking nature photography, Sayre offers a dramatic examination of a rain shower as droplets soak birds, roll down pumpkins, dot the backs of insects, and muddy the forest floor.”

-Starred Review, Publisher’s Weekly

“This attractive work is also ideal for read-alouds and an easy entry for students delving into nonfiction reading, especially in poetry or science units.”

-Starred Review, School Library Journal

“For over three decades, I’ve been immersed in an ocean of children’s picture books, reading and reading aloud countless numbers of them. With all that, I’m astounded by the quality of the photographs in RAINDROPS ROLL . . . When we talk about exposing children to nonfiction at an early age, this is the kind of book we should be advocating.”

-Richie’s Picks

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Published on February 16, 2015 08:29 • 25 views

January 5, 2015

AprilwithbooksJan2015Greetings from here at my desk, Jan 5, 2015! “. . . we read and are refreshed by such beauty and natural simplicity,” says the Wall Street Journal of my just released photo-illustrated book, Raindrops Roll. It was favorably reviewed in a Wall Street Journal article Jan 3, 2015, page C9. How wild is that?  For  another lovely review, see BookPage. There Julie Danielson says: “With expertly crafted, economical text and vivid photographs, April Pulley Sayre brings readers a tribute to the wonders of rain itself.” 2015 is shaping up to be a great year.  I’m busy writing and out in nature doing photography for picture books and middle grade books under contract. In addition to  Raindrops Roll, out now from Beach Lane/S&S, I’m also looking forward to Woodpecker Wham, illustrated by Steve Jenkins, which will be released by Henry Holt on May 12, 2015. My husband’s recent work, Kaufman Field Guide To Nature of the Midwest, coauthored with the Kaufmans, will be out from Houghton Mifflin in late April. We so appreciate your support, as readers and educators. Your buying our books and recommending them to others allows us to do this healthy, joyful work of exploring and sharing nature, science, and playful language. Happy 2015, friends!

Raindrops Roll WoodpeckerWham_cvr_lorez

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Published on January 05, 2015 09:39 • 22 views

August 26, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 7.35.56 AM5P0A5318Raindrops Roll comes out with Beach Lane/S&S on Jan 5, 2015.  Each photo I took has a special meaning to me and some have hidden creatures in them. So this blog covers the behind-the-scenes secrets and science. For instance, the droplet-covered leaves on the cover are lupine. That’s the same kind of plant made famous by the children’s book, Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney. The plant produces a tall spike of bluish/purplish flowers. In Indiana, my husband planted several native lupine plants in small flower beds he created. Each year the plants flowered and formed pods. The pods dry and fling seed out of the flower beds. Those plants sprouted in our lawn. My husband mowed around them so the flower bed became bigger and bigger. So, now we, too, have plenty of lupine and the seed pods.  To see one of seed pods, look through the book. Hint…it’s not just seeds that “fly.”  (By the way, there’s a tiny fly in the front cover photo. Can you find it?)

Our lupine bed

Our lupine bed

A lupine leaf with rain on it

A lupine leaf with rain on it

A small redbud tree

A small redbud tree

Raindrops Roll Inside Cover

The big heart-shaped leaf is a young leaf of a Redbud tree I planted. Every year leaf cutter bees cut pieces of this tree. But you’ll have to wait for another book to see those cut leaves!



Pages 3-4 The frog

This is a a cup plant, which is a native prairie plant. My husband, Jeff Sayre, took the photo of the gray tree frog in that plant. That year our cup plants had lots of tiny red insects eating them so these leaves are very chewed up and brown. The exoskeletons of the insects are left on the undersides of the leaves.

The cup plants where the frog was sitting.

The cup plants where the frog was sitting.

Pages 5-6 The dark sky/bird

The bird is a mourning dove.

Pages 7-8

The insect inside the red lily is a juvenile katydid. Katydids look much different as adults.

The fly is inside a lupine pod. The first time I photographed this plant I was just trying to take a photo of the pod. But when I went indoors to look at the photo on the computer, as is often the case, I saw something else—this time, the fly hiding in the pod. So I ran back outside to photograph it more clearly.  FYI: The orange flower behind it is not a lupine. It is a butterfly weed, a kind of milkweed that monarch caterpillars eat.

Pages 9-10

Those leaves are oak leaves right outside our house. I actually took the photo from the back window of our house so I was sheltered as it poured rain.

Pages 11-12

This bird is a bluejay. Bluejays, wet with rain, look gray. That’s because their blue color is a structural color, caused by the microscopic structure of the feathers. When rain wets the feathers, they do not bounce light the same way, so they do not look blue. They look gray. (Things that have pigmented colors, instead of structural feathers, would still look brighter blue even when wet.)

5P0A6902Pages 13-14

This insect is camouflaged to look like a leaf. It is an adult katydid. (A juvenile katydid appears elsewhere in the book. Not sure they are the same katydid species but they are both katydids.) One of the famous “sounds of summer” is actually made by katydids rubbing their wings together to create their call at night. It sounds a bit like katy-did, katy-did!  See that pumpkin? It’s photographed at the South Bend Farmer’s Market where I photographed Rah, Rah, Radishes: A Vegetable Chant; Go, Go, Grapes: A Fruit Chant! and Let’s Go Nuts: Seeds We Eat. One day when I was at the market it rained. I ran outside to photograph a rainbow but then realized all the vegetables were washed by rain so I photographed this pumpkin, and others, too.

Pages 15-16

This is a tiger lily plant. Raindrops make little noises as they splash against the broad, hollow plant stem. Look for a tiger lily flower later in the book. Can you find it?

Pages 17-18

This is a salamander. Like most frogs, most salamanders need watery areas to lay their eggs. So rain is important in their lives! I photographed this one in southern Illinois.

Page 19-20

This plant has waxy leaves that repel water. So the water “beads up” on the plant.

Pages 21-22

This rainstorm water was gushing down a little trail in southwestern Michigan, near where I live.

Pages 23-24

This cabbage white butterfly inspired the book. I took a photo of it and when I looked at it on the computer, I was amazed to see the raindrops clinging to its head and legs. Soon, I became obsessed with photographing raindrops on things.

Cabbage white butterflies do, indeed, lay eggs on plants in the cabbage family.

Pages 25-26

Notice all the different sizes of raindrops on this daisy. When two water droplets are so close together that they touch, they usually join to form a single, larger droplet.

Pages 27-28

These droplets are on an herb called bronze fennel. It is a feathery green/brown/gray plant. When you crush its thin, spiky leaves, they smell like licorice. Black swallowtail butterflies lay eggs on this plant so it can be good for wildlife in northeastern gardens. But in other places, such as southern California, where the winter doesn’t kill it back, this plant can be a pest. It is invasive. It escapes into wild areas and grows thickly, outcompeting native plants and endangering habitats.

Pages 29-30

This is a leaf of a member of the cabbage family.

Pages 31-32

5P0A8572This is a black swallowtail caterpillar. The one in the book is munching dill flowers. This one is munching fennel.

The flower with “dots” of rain on it is lantana, a popular landscaping plant that attracts butterflies.

Look for a terrific reflection of the entire stem in the raindrop near “drip!”


Pages 33-34

Remember the tiger? On the left page is a closeup of a tiger lily plant.

What needs wet areas? Moss! Underneath the slug is moss. This slug was photographed in Ohio.

What comes after rain? Mushrooms!  A few days after heavy rains, mushrooms may begin to push up from the ground. The yellow ones in this photo are called “Yellow Earth Tongues.” They were photographed at a wild area near Fernwood Botanical Garden in Michigan.

Pages 35-36

This raindrop is on an evergreen conifer. Evergreen means it does not drop its leaves all at once. Conifers bear cones. The shape of the entire branch is reflected in the raindrop. The two rectangular flashes on my camera are also in the raindrop image.

Pages 37-38

Hundreds of tiny spheres of water formed on the spikes of this plant after it rained.

On the right page, sticking out of this beautiful plant, is a hidden creature. An earwig!Can you find it?

Pages 39-40

This web is decorated by raindrops. But on some mornings you may see spider webs covered with droplets not from rain, but from dew. Dew-covered webs sparkle in the morning sunlight.  They’re often nicknamed “fairies’ washing” because people imagine fairies would wear such sparkly garments and put them out to dry on the shrubs and grasses.

Pages 41-42  This bumblebee is feeding at a wild senna, a midwestern tallgrass prairie plant.

Pages 43-44 The flowers on the copyright/acknowledgments page are actually cup plant flowers. Do you remember where else you’ve seen the cup plant in the book?

(The frog was in it at the beginning!)

Back Cover  This is a grackle in the rain.  If you see a flock of blackish birds some of them may be grackles. Grackles and red-winged blackbirds often travel in flocks together.  Some grackles are brownish. Some adult male grackles look black in certain light yet in other light they are bronze, green, and purple, like this one in the rain.

Are all the raindrops in the book real? YES. Many times, as I waited for another rainstorm in order to take a certain photograph, someone would say, “Why don’t you just spritz it with some water from a bottle?” Nope. Not the same. I would know. And I don’t know how such droplets would differ from what is presented when raindrops fall and land on plants and animals. Besides, nonfiction should be real—and manmade raindrops would be fake to me.

Rainbow close to ground

Finally, here’s a photo that we considered for the book but did not go in. It’s a rainbow…eight feet off the ground in my backyard! It rained in my backyard while it was still sunny in the front yard and this tiny rainbow formed for just a few minutes.


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Published on August 26, 2014 04:31 • 40 views

May 30, 2014

photo 2Rah, Rah, Radishes! becomes a board book in the Little Simon Classic Board Book line on July 15th!   In 2015, look for Woodpecker Wham illus by Steve Jenkins (Holt )and my photo-illustrated Raindrops Roll (Beach Lane/S&S.)

I am taking a speaking sabbatical through May 2015. So I won’t be scheduling any conferences or school visits during that time. If you are interested in future visits, contact me in March 2015 when I will start booking my schedule once again. Here’s a recent article about my work in Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vicki-cobb/arousing-a-childrens-nonfiction_b_4859905.html

Bank Street Books had both Eat Like a Bear and Here Come the Humpbacks! on their best-of-the year lists. Hurray!  Happy summer, everyone!

Portland Review has great coverage of Here Come the Humpbacks! http://portlandbookreview.com/tag/april-pulley-sayre/

Eat Like a Bear in Booklinks http://poetryforchildren.blogspot.com/2014/04/book-links-nonfiction-monday-meets.html

Kids & veggie books? See http://www.babybooknook.blogspot.com



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Published on May 30, 2014 06:55 • 30 views

February 6, 2014

SayreEatLikeaBearRaising my bowl of blueberries this morning to illustrator Steve Jenkins. Our book, Eat Like a Bear, which received three starred reviews, was  named an ALA (American Library Association) Notable Book for 2014! It is a huge honor to be chosen for recognition by the ALA Notables Committee—especially in a year with such a great crop of books. By tradition, the list also includes winners from ALA award categories, too.  Steve and I have three more projects in the works. Next up is Woodpecker Wham.

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Published on February 06, 2014 04:02 • 40 views

December 26, 2013

See my interview with Kirkus Reviews.com Julie Danielson of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

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Published on December 26, 2013 08:31 • 43 views

December 21, 2013

Preschool teachers rock! This teacher’s joy lifts my spirits every time I watch the video. While signing Rah, Rah, Radishes and Go, Go, Grapes last year in Atlanta, I met this fabulous teacher who agreed to share how she gets the 4-year olds in her class to try foods. The video is on my youtube channel. Jeff and I have also posted some of our nature clips on our Sayre Nature Youtube Channel.

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Published on December 21, 2013 17:20 • 42 views