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By: Sneed B. Collard III / Illustrated by: Robin Brickman

Wings are mighty useful things.

Award-winning author Sneed B. Collard III explores the world of flying animals and insects—and a few that don't, despite having wings.

Wings come in different shapes and sizes, from the large wingspan of the king vulture to the small and delicate wings of the phantom crane fly. Some wings are feathered, some have scales, and some are just skin and bones. No matter what they're made of, wings are an important part of these aerial creatures' survival, helping them find food, elude predators, or attract mates.

Intricate cut-paper sculptures by Robin Brickman show the delicate beauty of each type of wing. The art is so lifelike that he creatures look as if they could fly off the page.

Back matter includes a glossary and additional resources.

Look Inside the Book:

Author & Illustrator Bios:

Sneed B. Collard III, author

Sneed B. Collard III has been a biologist, computer scientist, and author. He began writing after graduating with honors in marine biology from the University of California, Berkeley. Sneed is the author of several children’s books, including, Creepy Creatures, Our Wet World, Forest in the Clouds, and One Night in the Coral Sea. He lives in Missoula, Montana.

Read more about Sneed.

Robin Brickman, illustrator

For nearly 30 years, Robin Brickman’s affinity for natural science and art has culminated into realistic illustrations like those found in One Night in the Coral Sea and Beaks! Her innovative illustrations entail a painstaking process of sketching, cutting, painting, gluing, and shaping. The finished 3-dimensional molds are then photographed and used as illustrations. Robin lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Read more about Robin.

Awards & Honors:


  • NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12
  • John Burroughs List of Nature Books for Young Readers

    Editorial Reviews:

    Science News

    In these two books, Collard provides a grand tour of animal diversity. By focusing on variations in two traits, teeth and wings, he harks back to the days when animals were classified on the basis of type rather than on descent from a common ancestor. Winged birds and bats were grouped together, as were legless snakes and worms. After all, such innovations occur time and time again in animal evolution. The wings and teeth highlighted in these two books are accurately rendered and from a plethora of animals. Artist Robin Brickman illustrates Wings in vivid detail with painted and paper-collage prints. Fox bat wings look leathery; butterfly wings appear scaly. In Teeth, snarling, yawning, and feeding animals are painted in realistic, and occasionally gory, illustrations by artist Phyllis Saroff. For example, a vampire bat slices a hoof with razor-sharp teeth, and a hyena gnaws on a dismembered zebra leg. Collard includes more than obvious animals : These might be the first children's books to display the gaudy pink feathers of Australian galahs, or the hard, flat teeth in the throats of bullnose rays.

    NSTA Recommends

    How often have people wished to have wings to lift them up to see the world? Award-winning author Sneed B. Collard III explains the science of wings in simple text, supported by exceptional illustrations that vividly portray their features.

    Insects, birds, and bats have wings to travel short and long distances. These animals populate almost every place on Earth that you can imagine. The styles of wings from large to small and brightly colored to colorless are discussed in easy-to-read language. The pictures show the delicate beauty of the winged animals. Readers learn about the science of flight while learning about the flying animals’ abilities. The adaptations of animals to fly, migrate, find mates, chase and catch prey, and to escape predators are also discussed.

    This would be a wonderful resource for teaching young students about animal adaptations. The book contains extra resources and a glossary. Children will delight in the beautiful artwork as they learn about these special animals. This book was selected as an NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book for 2009.

    Science Magazine

    Insects, birds, and bats all move through the air on wings. Collard introduces the diversity of these appendages and their uses. Wings can be covered with scales, feathers, or bare skin. They allow peregrines to twist and turn in a dive, leaf-nosed bats to lazily flap over the ground, milkweed bugs to move short distances among patches, and Arctic terns to migrate between the polar regions. They help animals chase, catch, flee, and mate. To illustrate this variety, Brickman sculpted painted paper into colorful collages.

    Kirkus Reviews

    The creative team that collaborated on Beaks tackles the subject of wings. Beginning with a look at the many types of animals that have wings, Collard then offers some examples of the wide diversity of wing styles—differences in size, color and covering are all explored. He presents the dynamics of flight briefly, along with ways wings can influence an animal's activities and the many things animals accomplish by using their wings. The text concludes by comparing animals' wings to the wings humans have invented to achieve flight. Font differences make the text easily adaptable to many age groups—for the very young, just a short sentence, while for older readers there is an entire paragraph of information. Every animal is labeled, and the list of resources and glossary at the back will help children learn more. Brickman's awe-inspiring artwork was created by painting paper with watercolors, then cutting, sculpting and gluing the individual pieces of each collage. The result is an amazing feast of color and texture that brings the creatures to life and helps readers see how wings work. A must-have for every library collection.

    Learning Magazine

    "Wings come in many styles. From large to small. From brightly colored. To no color at all." This book explores the diversity of wings, the mechanics of flight, and the abilities and attributes that flying animals possess. Intricate and vivid collages show the functionality and delicate beauty of each wing type.


    Download the Cover


    ISBN: 978-1-57091-612-0

    E-book PDF
    ISBN: 978-1-60734-122-2 EPUB
    For information about purchasing E-books, click here.

    Ages: 5-8
    Page count: 32
    8 1/2 x 11

    If you like this book, you’ll enjoy these:
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    The Bird Alphabet Book
    The Butterfly Alphabet Book