Heavenrich, Sue. 13 Ways to Eat a Fly. Charlesbridge. 2021. 978-1-58089-890-4. $16.99. Grades K-4.
Science and math combine to make an icky, yummy, tasty counting book filled with insects and ways they can be consumed! As a swarm of flies go by, one-by-one they are consumed in a variety of ways by a variety of animals. Don’t be sad, however, as the flies are consumed, for more will be born and the process will continue! You will laugh and be shocked at the icky ways these bugs are consumed, in ways humans may not want to know about!
THOUGHTS: This is a very fun book all about how insects are consumed! This book is filled with great details, scientific facts, and fun pictures.
595.77 Other InvertebratesRachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD
Fan, Terry and Eric Fan. It Fell from the Sky. Simon & Schuster, 2021. 978-1-534-45762-1. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-2.
“It fell from the sky on Thursday.” And so begins this imaginative tale of a group of genteel insects who witness something fall into their garden. With its round shape and beautiful colors, the insects agree that they had never seen anything so amazing. The Dung beetle finds it too heavy to roll, and the ethereal Luna Moth believes it is a chrysalis waiting to hatch. The wise Grasshopper, with magnifying glass in hand, declares that it is “not of earthly origins.” Spider artfully builds a display for this “Wonder from the Sky” and charges admission. As the attraction grows more popular, Spider increases his rates, only to lose customers. Then the worst happens when a “five-legged creature” snatches the object. Spider realizes he has been selfish and makes amends to all when more opportunities fall into place. This creative story is truly enhanced by the illustrations. The scenery and the creatures are drawn in graphite, while only the “Wonder” is in color, thus directing the reader’s focus right to it. The author-illustrators add a whimsical touch in the insects’ attire with many wearing hats or other accessories.
THOUGHTS: The Fan Brothers have crafted a remarkable and humorous picture book that is sure to delight young readers. This text can be used to illustrate the concept of point of view and to launch a discussion about sharing. It is a must-have for all elementary collections.
Spires, Ashley. Burt the Beetle Doesn’t Bite! Kids Can Press. 2021. 978-1-525-30146-9. $12.99. Grades K-2.
Burt is a Ten-Lined June Beetle, also known as a Watermelon Beetle! Burt has amazing superhero powers. Well, at least that is what Burt believes! He discovered that he can’t lift something that is fifty times his weight like ant can, he doesn’t have ultrasonic blasts like hawk moths, he does not have a the ability to spray paralyzing venom like some termites can, and he also cannot release a bad smell to repel predators like stink bugs. In fact, Burt can’t climb up walls, fly very well, or even run fast! Is there something that makes Burt special?
THOUGHTS: This is a cute graphic novel-style informational book about insects! A cute story for young readers to learn about the super things specific bugs can do, including June bugs!
McCanna, Tim. In a Garden. Ill. Aimée Sicuro. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020. 978-1-5344-1797-7. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades PreK-2.
Through rhyming verses and vivid watercolor illustrations, In a Garden explores how things grow. From seeds being planted to sunlight and rain nurturing the plants, readers see all of the various aspects of natural growth both in a garden and in those who nurture and care for the garden. McCanna identifies a variety of flowers and vegetables that grow in gardens, while also describing the duties of the various insects that help the garden grow. The four seasons establish how things grow unseen, and also establish the life cycle with insects laying eggs and a woman, pregnant in the beginning, holding a baby when spring returns after winter.
THOUGHTS: This is a gorgeous picture book. Sicuro’s watercolors represent each aspect of the natural world beautifully, while McCanna’s words are playful and representative of the life cycle. Many readers will see themselves in this text because the garden is in a city, and the humans are representative of the diversity in a city. This picture book is a great introduction to the life cycle, gardening, and caring for the natural world. It would pair well with growing a school garden or just planting a seed that students can take home and grow.
Theule, Larissa. A Way With Wild Things. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2020. 978-1-681-19039-6. $17.99. Unpaged. Grades K-2.
Beautifully written and illustrated! Poppy’s shy nature makes her want to fade into the background around people, but outside, amongst the beauty of nature, Poppy really blooms. She loves the insects and flowers and knows much about them. When a dragonfly lands on her hand at a birthday party for Grandma Phyllis, all eyes are on Poppy. Grandma Phyllis shares that “Poppy’s got a way with wild things,” and she finds the courage to tell everyone the scientific name for the dragonfly. Poppy decides that rather than being a wallflower, she’s a wildflower. Larissa Theule’s beautiful language combines with Sara Palacios’s layered illustrations to bring Poppy to life.
THOUGHTS: Shy kids will see themselves in Poppy. A lovely book overall.
Who knew pollen could be so interesting? DiscoverRoo’s “Pollinators” series gets elementary nonfiction right. Straightforward text explains the pollination process and provides details on pollinators and their habitats, habits, and issues surrounding the various types of creatures. “Honeybees can visit 5,000 flowers in one day.” Wow! Beautiful photographs, plenty of white space to keep page layout looking clean, QR codes sprinkled throughout the text, and lots of helpful nonfiction text features keep these titles feeling fresh. Each book includes a table of contents, glossary, index, and an online resources section accessible via a QR code for further learning opportunities.
THOUGHTS: Invest in this set if creature features are popular or if looking to update supporting science series.
Did you ever wonder who discovered the migration pattern of monarch butterflies? Pincus explains it all in this beautifully illustrated picture book. She begins with a discussion of how these insects have inhabited North America for centuries, but no one knew where the butterflies went in winter. The answer was revealed in 1976 through the cooperation of scientists, science teachers, gardeners, and many other people. It began with a Canadian scientist who began tagging the butterflies’ wings in order to track them. He and his wife placed ads in newspapers throughout the continent, asking people to help with both tagging and searching for them. Finally in Mexico, an American adventurer and his wife located the insects’ winter destination with the help of the local people. The author asks readers of today to help save the monarch’s food source and habitat before it is too late. Imamura’s mostly full bleed drawings are colorful and full of details. The back matter includes a page called “How to Help the Monarch” and more information about the migration discovery.
THOUGHTS: This is a wonderful nonfiction text that will delight the reader. It is a perfect choice for butterfly or ecology units and is a great read aloud at any time. A first purchase for elementary collections.
595.789 Butterflies Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member
Fleming, Candace, and Eric Rohmann. Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera. Neal Porter Books, 2020. 978-0-8234-4285-0. Unpaged. $18.99. Grades K-2.
On a summer morning, a new life begins, a new honeybee emerges from her cell. With characteristically flawless prose, Fleming guides the reader day by day through the short life cycle of the honeybee. The new worker bee immediately begins tasks about the hive, from cleaning, to feeding larva, to tending the queen. At approximately four weeks, the worker transitions to a forager, seeking nectar and communicating its location to other foragers. This job will consume the honeybee for the rest of her days. Fleming’s text is gently poetic, imbuing grace and beauty to the life of the bee and the hive. Caldecott winner Rohmann’s eye-catching artwork adds another layer to the experience and is not for the faint-of-heart. Illustrations of the bee are enormous, covering entire pages. Some young readers will thrill to the extreme closeups of eyes and antenni, but other, more bug-phobic, children (and adults) may find the pictures terrifying.
THOUGHTS: This is a lovely, lyrical peek inside the hive and the life of the honeybee, but know your audience before using it as a read-aloud.
Spencer, Sophia, & Margaret McNamara. The Bug Girl: A True Story. Schwartz & Wade Books, 2020. 978-0-525-64593-1. 44 p. $17.99. Grades K-3.
Sophia Spencer describes herself in three words: “The Bug Girl.” Sophia falls in love with bugs at the young age of two-and-a-half when a butterfly lands on her shoulder and stays there for her entire visit while she is visiting a butterfly conservatory. She starts learning all she can about every type of bug and because of that, Sophia notices them everywhere she goes. She has a strict no-kill policy with any bugs, a rule her mother respects, even when Sophia brings unwanted critters inside the house. When Sophia is in kindergarten, all of her classmates are entranced by her stories and facts about bugs. But as she grows up and moves through elementary school, she notices that her classmates, once intrigued by her unique hobby, are now making fun of her. Crushed by the criticism and ridicule of her peers, Sophia gives up bugs for a bit… until her mother reaches out to other bug scientists. The responses she receives change her life forever. Beautiful illustrations by the husband and wife team Kerascoët (illustrators of Malala’s Magic Pencil) show how full of color Sophia’s life really is.
THOUGHTS: What makes this picture book biography unique, besides showcasing the much under-represented topic of women in science, is that it is written by The Bug Girl herself. This is quite an accomplishment for a fourth grader. There is even a section of bug facts in the back of the book, written by Sophia in kid-friendly language. Her inspirational story shows that elementary students are quite capable of pursuing their interests even when others do not understand them, although it may not be easy. Young female readers who are interested in science will connect to Sophia’s story.
Williams, Susie. What Lives in the Dirt? Crabtree Publishing Company, 2020. $9.95. ea. $39.80 set of 4. 32 p. K-3.
Ants. 978-0-778-77395-5. Centipedes and Millipedes. 978-0-778-77396-2. Snails. 978-0-778-77397-9.
This non-fiction picture book series, What Lives in the Dirt?, is great for introducing the primary set to what creatures live in the world at their feet. Hannah Tolson’s illustrations are simple enough so that even the youngest of students can clearly see what the information in the text is stating. These books are packed with facts that are right on cue with primary grade vocabulary. Each title contains highlighted words that can be found in the Glossary in the back, an at-home project that includes a material list and step-by-step instructions for students to extend their learning, a “More amazing facts” section, and an index. There is also a QR code on the back to access a Teacher’s Guide. This reviewer read Snails and Ants in the series.
THOUGHTS: A great series addition for elementary libraries for use in classrooms as well as for kids who love to get down and dirty outside.
595.7 AntsKrista Fitzpatrick, Waldron Mercy Academy