The Big Book of Bugs
Yuval Zommer and Barbara Taylor
Thames & Hudson
Now is the time of year to go in search of all things buggish and armed with inventive illustrator, Yuval Zommer’s and bug expert, Barbara Taylor’s fantastic book, you’ll be in a position to find out all about them. It’s absolutely packed full of fascinating facts and some figures relating to minibeasts of all kinds – insects, snails, spiders, centipedes and worms and indeed we are given a classification explaining how to tell what’s what …
as well as some other general bug-related information, before moving on to look at particular species in greater detail. This, the author does by posing intriguing questions such as ‘Does a dragonfly breathe fire?’ or ‘Just how slow does a snail go?’
as leads in to double spreads on over twenty-five topics. Most spreads look at one kind of mini creature, say spiders, where among the facts we find that spiders have 48 knees (I’ve never thought of spiders having knees before, I have to say); or Ants ‘the queen ant can live for 15 years!’
Or, Centipedes where we discover ‘most of these creatures have around 30 legs and can have over 300.
And, in relation to Bugs on the Move, ‘A horsefly (my most unfavourite bug) can fly faster than a car on the motorway.’ That’s as maybe, but the one that bit me and caused an infected wound on my back that grew to the size of a duck’s egg and needed daily lancing for over a month, certainly wasn’t doing that!
Each spread is beautifully illustrated by Yuval Zommer, who adds touches of humour here and there, making bug discovery and factual learning a fun activity for all. Zommer even extends his creativity and readers’ enjoyment by including a ‘search and find’ element throughout, asking on the title page, ‘Can you find exactly the same fly 15 times in this book? Watch out for imposters.’ And he’s also hidden a couple of stripey wasps on the Bees spread …
This is exactly the kind of captivating, treasure trove of a book that will turn youngsters into bug lovers, effervescing with enthusiasm to go on a minibeast hunt. It’s a must have for all family bookshelves, primary schools and early years settings – most of the latter two include some kind of minibeast theme in the curriculum.
Also on the topic of minibeasts, focusing on one category of insects is:
A Beetle Is Shy
Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long
This one is vibrantly illustrated in glowing watercolours by Sylvia Long, and the poetic text is provided by Diana Hutts Aston. Although originating in the US,(and so some of the species may be unfamiliar to say, UK readers) the book has plenty to offer everyone with an interest in the subject. And some species just have different names ‘Convergent Lady Beetle’ is a ladybird.
The author uses attention-catching phrases such as ‘A beetle is kaleidoscopic’ …
or ‘A beetle is telegraphic’ …
to introduce particular characteristics that are then further explored on the spread in text that is perfectly pitched to engage and keep readers involved and wanting to know more.
We learn of the helpful things some beetles do (ladybirds eat aphids for instance), others can be a food source (in India some people eat stag beetle chutney. I’ve never come across this despite frequent visits). But some kinds such as weevils devastate crops like cotton and lettuce.
A good one for individual reading or for sharing – it reads aloud so well.