Bug

Bug
Robyn Koontz and Amy Proud
Sterling

Bug, so named because of her passion for bugs – spotting them and drawing them – finds it hard to concentrate in her maths lessons. Instead, her teacher often catches her doodling and staring outside thinking about her favourite creatures.

When Mrs Muskie tells the class that they can plan a trip to the science museum, so long as everyone does well in the maths test the following day, encouraged by her friend Jasper on their way home, Bug determines to do her best.

Sitting in the field near her school, the little girl tries hard to concentrate on maths but finds herself distracted by buzzy bees, tickly gnats, dragonflies and butterflies, which of course, she cannot resist drawing in her sketchbook.

When she notices crickets on a log in two groups, these too become objects for sketching.

But then, Bug realises that instead of a distraction, her minibeast drawings can help her understand her maths – good on you Bug – and she proceeds to use her pictures of butterflies, ants and crickets as visual aids.

I absolutely love the way that back in her classroom next day, during the test, Bug comes to the aid of her teacher when her lucky crickets become a bit too lively, escaping from her lunch box and landing in Mrs Muskie’s hair,

calmly leading her outside, collecting up the offending creatures from the field and proceeding to prove to her teacher that she was doing as she’d been told ‘showing her thinking’ on her paper, which she hands over for checking.

Congratulations are the order of the day and Mrs Muskie is as good as her word …

There’s plenty of gentle humour both in Robin Koontz’s text and Amy Proud’s enchanting illustrations executed in pencil and acrylics that are likely to make budding entomologists out of all young children (although I’ve yet to come across one who isn’t fascinated by minibeasts).

A smashing book.

Say Hi to Hedgehogs! / We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: Let’s Discover Bugs

Say Hi to Hedgehogs!
Jane McGuinness
Walker Books

Would that we could, is my immediate response to the title of this lovely addition to the Walker Nature Storybook series. I’ve not seen a hedgehog in the wild for a very long time and they used to be fairly commonplace little creatures foraging in suburban back gardens and I know they are now an endangered species.
All the more reason to get to know something about them; and here’s just the book from debut author and illustrator Jane McGuinness to help youngsters do just that.
The main text takes the form of a narrative ostensibly by a small girl pictured at the start of the book. She introduces readers to a particular hedgehog and her babies (hoglets)

and their everyday life, habits, diet …

and behaviour through the year.
This is presented in a large, easy to read font and includes some lovely playful language such as ‘sniffling and snuffling and snaffling … whirring and churring and purring’ making it a great read aloud. Additional, more detailed factual information is set out in a smaller script throughout the book.
The final spread has advice on how to make your home hedgehog friendly, an index, a short bibliography and a list of useful websites.
Hedgehogs are truly endearing creatures and Jane McGuinness’s illustrations, which look to be rendered in pastel, paint and crayon, do full justice to their charms; and her scenes of their nocturnal meanderings are absolutely beautiful.

Jane McGuinness is definitely an illustrator to watch.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: Let’s Discover Bugs
Walker Entertainment

Following on from the success of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Adventure Field Guide, Walker have added new titles to the series of which this is one.
Before sallying forth on a bug hunt, it’s wise to make sure you’re prepared and the opening page is devoted to so doing,
Thereafter it’s bugs all the way, first in the garden and then further afield into the woods, to the pond and finally, out into the meadows.
Each location introduces several minibeasts and offers related activities and some basic factual information.
Everything is clearly and attractively presented and at the back are several pages of stickers to be used in some of the activities.
This clever and fun book is ideal for children who love to explore the outdoors. It’s just the size for popping into a rucksack and likely to make outdoor forays all the more interesting and rewarding.

First Day at Bug School

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First Day at Bug School
Sam Lloyd
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Wow! This is a Bug-alicious book absolutely full to bursting with buggish delights all of which are hidden (except to readers of the story) amongst the grass and weeds down at the bottom of the garden, and it’s the very first day of term. Yes, it’s there that Miss Bumblebee has her BUG SCHOOL and she’s already welcoming all the new entrants with open arms – well appendages anyway. Seemingly they can’t wait to start school especially when she tells them, “You’ll have the best time ever!” (I bet Miss B. doesn’t have pointless assessments to perform on them almost as soon as they set foot inside, or mindless targets for them to reach.)
Seemingly Miss Bumblebee is something of a traditionalist: she takes the register formally with all the newcomers facing her and then off they go to their respective classes. Mr Wincey takes Spider Class where there’s a vital lesson to be learnt …

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Chloe Cricket spends her time in singing: there’s a new song to be learned in her class, Lucy Ladybird meanwhile, has a spot of counting to do – literally – courtesy of her very spotty pal …

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Lunch time is spent together with ants to assist; and that’s followed by outside play where ‘There are things to climb on, / things to slide on, / things to squash / and mend./ And little / Daisy Dragonfly / has made a / brand new friend.’ (The entire story is told in rhyme) It all looks great fun, but over in the Boy Bugs’ loos Billy Beetle is in a bit of a fix …

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There’ll be a puddle on the floor if Sylvester Snail doesn’t get a shifty on.
Then there’s P.E. at which Freddie Flea is bound to excel and last of all – the very best time of the day – is story time and Miss Bumblebee ready in her special story chair…

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After all the fun, the bell signals that it’s time to go home and then from all the bugs comes the inevitable “Can we come again tomorrow” cry, shouted at full volume.
I love the almost ariel view of the whole school on the final spread, but to see that, you’ll need your own copy of this super book and I’m certain if you have youngsters about to start school, or even nursery come September, then this is for you and your little one to enjoy together. There is just SO much to look at and talk about in Sam Lloyd’s stupendous minibeast-filled scenes.

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