Tabor, Corey R. Sir Ladybug. Balzer + Bray, 2022. 978-0-063-06906-0. $12.99. 68 p. Grades PK-3.
This epic insect tale is constructed as an early-reader graphic novel. In four chapters, an introduction, two interludes, and an epilogue, readers will be delighted with the antics of Sir Ladybug, his Herald, Pell (an anxious pill bug), and his Trusty Squire, Sterling (a gamer snail with a penchant for cake). The three friends are on an epic quest to save a yellow caterpillar from the dreaded monster, Chickadee. Though initially tempted to hide in Sterling’s shell to avoid being eaten, the friends devise an amusing plan to befriend their nemesis. Delightful and bright comic illustrations highlight the action, which is packed with non-stop humor.
THOUGHTS: At first glance this early-reader graphic novel is pure fun. Silliness abounds in both the text and illustrations. New readers and graphic novel enthusiasts will be completely amused. Dig a little deeper, and it is clear the book is also cleverly teaching literary vocabulary and structure. A fabulous read aloud or independent reading selection.
Early ReaderAnne McKernan, Council Rock SD
Bayly, Sami. A Curious Collection of Dangerous Creatures. The Experiment, 2021. 978-1-615-19824-5. 125 p. $18.95. Grades 3-8.
Dangerous…it’s a word that evokes feelings of fear and terror in many individuals. While animals considered or called dangerous can pose some level of threats to humans, they are often misunderstood. Author and illustrator Sami Bayly spotlights some of these creatures and explores how they have adapted to ward off predators with amazing (and yes, dangerous) defense mechanisms. For example, the greater slow loris (a small, tree-dwelling primate native to some countries in Asia), produces toxins in its elbow glands. If you see it licking its armpit/elbow area, watch out! It’s collecting venom that mixes with saliva to create a toxic bite. The geography cone snail lives near coral reefs in the Pacific. From the outside, it looks like a beautiful seashell, but inside lives the world’s most venomous sea snail. One shot of the snail’s venom can kill up to 15 people! These are just two of the 60 creatures profiled in this engaging title. Each entry defines the danger profile for the animal, as well as identifying their habitat, eating habits and conservation status. Particularly noteworthy are Byly’s illustrations. Trained as a natural history illustrator, her detailed watercolor paintings are true works of art and bring the animals to life. Note: A Curious Collection of Dangerous Creatures was previously published in Australia under the title The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Dangerous Animals.
THOUGHTS: This fantastic title will give readers a new appreciation and respect for the ways animals have adapted to survive. Ideal for casual browsers or researchers, readers will find themselves engrossed by the interesting facts presented about each animal and the detailed illustrations.
Valerio, Geraldo. My Book of Butterflies. Groundwood, 2021. 978-1-773-06335-5. 48 p. $24.99. Grades 1-3.
Author and illustrator Geraldo Valerio introduces readers to a variety of his favorite butterflies in this beautifully illustrated title. Detailed paint, colored pencil, and paper collage illustrations vibrantly depict butterflies in various stages of life. The volume is arranged geographically, with each section depicting a selection of butterflies from a continent. Most spreads feature several species of butterflies, some shown in flight, while others rest on leaves or branches, occasionally enjoying some nectar. The accompanying text, though brief, offers readers a description of key and unique characteristics of the species. Opening pages of the volume depict the stages of a butterfly’s life cycle, as well as identifying parts of a butterfly. The end pages are also a treat as they show caterpillars as well as butterflies in the chrysalis stage. Backmatter includes a glossary and list of additional resources.
THOUGHTS: Browsers will enjoy spending some time with My Book of Butterflies and pouring over the detailed illustrations. A worthwhile purchase for schools serving young readers.
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