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Beauty and the Beak

Photo by Glen Hush (c) Jane Veltkamp

NSTA PRESIDENT’S REVIEW OF BEAUTY AND THE BEAK (with standards and activities) in NSTA journal SCIENCE AND CHILDREN, From the Tip of a Beak to the End of a Tail (Download PDF)


DOWNLOAD BEAUTY AND THE BEAK: Bald Eagle Beak Ripping Force STEM Activity

Cook Prize

Beauty and the Beak has won the 2018
Bank Street College of Education
Cook Prize for Best STEM Picture Book!

WINNER of the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books, and featured in SCIENCE Magazine!


Eureka! Gold Award for Nonfiction,

California Reading Association


  • Junior Library Guild Selection

  • California Reads Title, California Teachers Association

  • Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Kids Books

  • Connects with STEM, E-STEM, STEAM, STREAM, language arts, social studies and more

Deborah's talks are inspiring, content-rich, and fun! 
—BEAUTY AND THE BEAK: How Science, Technology, and a 3D-Printed Beak Rescued a Bald Eagle and her other books
—How Beauty's beak was engineered, and the engineering team
—How Bald Eagles came back from near extinction in the US mainland, and their conservation today
—animal and human prosthetics
—3D printing
—Bald Eagles as the US national symbol
—a writer's work, from inspiration to the power of words

From a teacher: "After Deborah's talk about Beauty and the Beak, we brain-stormed how 3D printers could be used to create prosthetics for different animals to help with survival after birth defects, injury, etc. The kids worked in groups to design an animal prosthetic on paper and determined what it would look like, how it would work and how it would be attached to the animal. Then they used TinkerCad to design the prosthetic on a plane so they could tweak their design along the way, and finally they printed! I was blown away by the complexity of their designs."

Contact DebOrah

Coauthored with raptor biologist Jane Veltkamp, who led the team that engineered Beauty's 3D-printed, prosthetic beak

Cover and other photos by Glen Hush (c) Jane Veltkamp; Michelle Barker; and the USFWS National Digital Library

Cover and other photos by Glen Hush (c) Jane Veltkamp; Michelle Barker; and the USFWS National Digital Library


American Library Association Booklist: "...the science and technology included in this book are supremely interesting...the compassion and dedication of the people who put it to use to save this wonderful bird are the best part of the story."

AAAS Science Books & Films:"...a triumphant story about the positive power STEM can have in our world...The book chronicles the magic that occurs when compassionate and driven people strive to help another living organism with the full-range of technology..."

School Library Journal: "Outstanding full-page photographs accompany this uplifting account...Highly valuable for elementary schoolers as a lesson in empathy; an inspiring addition to STEM collections."

Midwest Book Review Children's Book Watch: "Impressively informative, exceptionally well written, profusely illustrated"

Kirkus Reviews: "Offer this heartwarming example of animal rehabilitation to fans of Winter’s Tail...Solid information about bald eagles in the wild is woven into the story...Resources include web connections and QR codes to be used with a Cornell Lab of Ornithology app." 

Engage Their Minds blog: "There are so many lessons to be learned by the story of Beauty, from the perils of poaching to the fantastic feats that can be accomplished by those who work together to beat the odds."

NSTA past president Dr. Karen Ostlund: "Not only does this book tell the poignant story of human compassion and ingenuity, but it is an inspiration for promoting the value of STEM education. "   

Lori Oczkus, national literacy expert and author, says: “Our classrooms desperately need powerful true stories like Beauty and the Beak to inspire students to read informational text and to learn to care for our world one creature at a time! Beauty and the Beak provides many opportunities for students to think critically and discuss important issues surrounding the environment.”


Museum of Science, Boston has hands-on STEM activities to make and test models of Beauty's beak in their free Engineering is Elementary curriculum and has included Beauty and her beak in their August 2017 public program "Afternoon Report."

Beauty's beak surgery was covered by media worldwide, and Beauty and Janie were filmed for Nat Geo WILD TV's Unlikely Animal Friends program, which aired in 130 countries.  


COMMON CORE STANDARDS/English Language Arts Standards

Grade 3 – Explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by words in a story. Grade 4 – Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
Grade 5 – Determine the meaning of words and phrases as used in a text, including metaphors and similes.

Grade 3 – Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect. Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).
Grade 4 – Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text. Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.
Grade 5 - Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text. Explain how an author uses reasons
and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s). Grade 6 – Analyze in detail how a key individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a text
(e.g., through examples or anecdotes). Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings.

Grade 3 – Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
Grade 4 – Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic. Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Grade 5 – Conduct short research projects using several sources to build knowledge by investigating different aspects of a topic. Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Grade 6 – Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.

Adaptations in physical structure or behavior may improve an organism’s chance for survival. Students know plants and animals have structures that serve different functions in growth, survival and reproduction.

Know the histories of important local and national landmarks, symbols, and essential documents that create a sense of community among citizens and exemplify cherished ideals (e.g., the U.S. flag, the Bald Bagle).

: Influence of Science, Engineering and Technology on Society and the Natural World
People’s needs and wants change over time, as do their demands for new and improved technologies. Engineers improve existing technologies or develop new ones to increase their benefits, decrease known risks, and meet societal demands.

DISCIPLINARY CORE IDEAS: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems
Possible solutions to a problem are limited by available materials and resources (constraints). The success of a designed solution is determined by considering the desired features of a solution (criteria). Different proposals for solutions can be compared on the basis of how well each one meets the specified criteria for success or how well each takes the constraints into account.

Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost. Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.