Skip to main content

When I Was a Turkey: Based on the Emmy Award-Winning PBS Documentary My Life as a Turkey

Review

When I Was a Turkey: Based on the Emmy Award-Winning PBS Documentary My Life as a Turkey

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to be a turkey? Well, author Joe Hutto tells a story about the two years he spent with a flock of turkeys, making him an authority on the subject. If anyone knows what it's like to be a turkey, it would be him.

When a bowl of wild turkey eggs was left on his porch, Hutto took it upon himself to incubate the eggs and see if they would hatch. With that batch of eggs, and then another batch a few days later, Hutto ended up with a total of 28 turkey eggs. Twenty-three of the turkeys hatched. Each one of the newly-hatched birds imprinted on Hutto as soon as they saw him. Imprinting is a process that some newborn birds and animals go through; they will latch on to the first animal or person that they see. In this case, 23 baby turkeys imprinted on Hutto and thought he was their mother. They looked to him for safety, comfort and guidance.

"The story was fascinating and I thoroughly enjoyed the detailed drawings that were scattered throughout the text. I learned a lot about wild turkeys, and I'm sure you will do the same when you read this great story."

Hutto took his role as a turkey mother very seriously. Before the eggs hatched, he made sure they were kept warm and dutifully turned them over twice a day. After the eggs hatched, he spent a great part of his day caring for the birds. The birds learned a lot from him, but he, in turn, learned a lot from them. One of the greatest things they taught him was how to see the world through the eyes of a turkey. It gave him a whole new perspective on the topic of turkeys.

Joe Hutto is a naturalist, wildlife artist, and an award-winning author. He has spent years studying various types of wildlife. Raising wild turkeys was just another one of his many adventures. Hutto kept copious notes while doing so, and drew pictures of many things he saw in the woods while he was with the turkeys. Some of these wonderful illustrations are included in the book. Hutto gives us a bird's-eye view (pun intended) into the life of wild turkeys. It is a fascinating glimpse into how turkeys interact with their environment.

This book was written by Brenda Z. Guiberson. She used Hutto's journals, as well as information from the documentary, to put together the text for this book. She includes a Glossary of terms and a Bibliography in the back of the book, showing she did her homework before writing the story.

I was drawn in by the title. I wondered: How can someone be a turkey? Then, while reading the book, I realized that Hutto came as close to actually being a turkey as probably any human has ever done. The story was fascinating and I thoroughly enjoyed the detailed drawings that were scattered throughout the text. I learned a lot about wild turkeys, and I'm sure you will do the same when you read this great story.

Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin on December 14, 2017

When I Was a Turkey: Based on the Emmy Award-Winning PBS Documentary My Life as a Turkey
by Joe Hutto