Posted in Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction

Join The Bug Club!

The Bug Club, by Elise Gravel, (Aug. 2021, Drawn & Quarterly), $17.95, ISBN: 9781770464155

Ages 6-10

I adore Elise Gravel’s graphic novels. Her latest, The Bug Club, is part autobiography, part STEM study; just like her Mushroom Fan Club (2018). We learn that Elise Gravel has always been fascinated by bugs, and, using her friendly, cartoon style, presents a wide range of fascinating and adorable bugs for readers to enjoy with her. It’s a good introduction to etymology; she gives an overview of invertebrates and what makes them members of that club; she illustrates wing shapes, antenna shapes, provides an overview of life cycles, and offers illustrations of baby vs. adult types of bugs, like wasps, ladybugs, and dragonflies. We even get profiles on some of her favorite bugs, with full-page illustrations and a brief discussion of tardigrades, dung beetles, and others. Loaded with fun facts, Ms. Gravel encourages kids to use their imaginations and think about bugs as cool aliens. Her writing is easy to read, easy to understand, and makes the science of bug-watching just plain fun. Great for young readers, you can go over colors, count numbers of bugs, wings, eyes, horns, or legs. Get creative! Encourage your own kiddos to start their own nature journals (you know I love my nature journals) and sketch pictures of the bugs they may discover in books or in the park (remember; take only pictures, leave only footprints).

Visit Elise Gravel’s page on Drawn and Quarterly for more about her graphic novels; visit Elise Gravel’s webpage for fun activities and downloadables for your kiddos and your libraries and classrooms.

Posted in Early Reader, Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

¡Más libros en español: peces y insectos! / More books in Spanish: Fish and Insects!

When I got back to my library just under two months ago, I discovered some bookmail waiting for me: two books in Spanish, courtesy of Peachtree Publishing! They’ve been wonderful about keeping me updated on their bilingual and Spanish nonfiction books, and I’ve loved the “About…” series they’ve sent me so far, so I wanted to make sure I gave these two books the love they deserve (and a place on my Spanish collection shelves).

Sobre los peces, by Cathryn Sill/Illustrated by John Sill, (Feb. 2020, Peachtree Publishers), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-154-6

Ages 3-7

Great early reader nonfiction. Sobre los peces is entirely in Spanish, and offers readers a look at the basics of fish: where they live, how they adapt to their environment, what they eat, how they reproduce. The text is written in easy-to-read, easy-to-understand, simple sentences, and each spread includes colorful, realistic paintings of different fish throughout. The text is presented in bold, black font against a white background, not competing for the reader’s attention; each painting includes the name of the fish, to increase understanding and forward the fact that there are a LOT of fish out there! Back matter includes more information about each spread: did you know that tropical fish are usually more vibrantly colored than fish from cold waters? It helps them camouflage better in their surroundings! A glossary and bibliography offer more resources for curious readers.

Peachtree includes a link to a free, downloadable Teacher’s Guide for the whole series. The guide is in English, but pair with some Spanish-language information like this page on National Geographic España, this story on sharks from TeachersPayTeachers creator, The Storyteller’s Corner, and this graphic organizer from TeachersPayTeachers creator Dual Language, Dual Fun.

 

Sobre los insectos, by Cathryn Sill/Illustrated by John Sill, (Feb. 2020, Peachtree Publishers), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-155-3

Ages 3-7

More great books in translation from Peachtree! About Insects is translated entirely into Spanish, with easy-to-read, easy-to-understand sentences introducing readers to the basics about insects: how many legs they have (it’s 6, not 8!), their hard exoskeletons, how they change forms as they get older, what they eat and how they eat, and how they are helpful to us humans (and how some are just plain pests). Colorful paintings by John Sill are realistic and detailed, making a naturalist out of every reader; the environments are textured, often lush, and there’s always something to draw your eye, from the movement of water as a trout jumps to catch a fleeing mayfly to the shadowy leaves in the background as a katydid leaps. Details on each painting, a glossary, and bibliography make up the back matter.

While the Teacher’s Guide is currently available in English, you can find more information about insects at National Geographic España, and there are copious free resources on TeachersPayTeachers, including a reader about The Hungry Insects from The Spanglish Senorita, bilingual bug bingo from onlinefreespanish, and a  counting sheet from The Spanish Amigo.

Thanks again, Peachtree!

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

Somethings Bugging Samantha Hansen – but it’s not bees!

Something’s Bugging Samantha Hansen, by Nancy Viau, (Aug. 2019, Schiffer Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764357763

Ages 8-12

Samantha Hansen is a 10-year-old fourth grader with a love for bugs, especially bees! When she discovers that the local apiary owner is considering selling his bee farm, she launches into action, assembling her classmates to drop some knowledge on the importance of bees to her community, and encourage everyone to help save the apiary. She’s also dealing with some big feelings: she is learning to keep her temper under control, which is really difficult, because her best friend, Kelli, is hanging out with another girl lately, and she’s got big feelings to contend with. This is the second Samantha Hansen book; the first, Samantha Hansen has Rocks in Her Head (2008), introduced us to Samantha, her temper, and her coping mechanisms. It’s a good book for STEM/STEAM readers, with information about bees and apiaries; it’s a good family story that continues the exploration of loss within a family, and working through feelings in a positive way. Black and white illustrations introduce the chapter heads, and colorful endpapers show bee-friendly flowers, a honeycomb, and different types of bees. A good book club choice because there’s so much covered in this story, you can also use this Bee Hotel activity from Vivify as an end of book activity.

Posted in Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction

Animal Planet chapter books: Nonfiction Nibbles for intermediate readers

Animal Planet Chapter Books: Bugs (Book #3), by James Buckley Jr. (June 2017, Liberty Street), $5.95, ISBN: 978-1-68330-756-3

Recommended for readers 6-10

A step up from early/easy reader animal facts books, Animal Planet chapter books (not the Animal Planet Adventures fiction/nonfiction series) are full-color, fully illustrated chapter books for intermediate readers. The first two in the series, Sharks and Dinosaurs, published in late 2016; Bugs and Snakes arrive this month.

Chapters are loaded with facts and photos of… well, bugs. There are three “Bug Bites” sections that take closer looks at bug bodies; extreme insects examines some of the crazy stats of the biggest, heaviest, longest bugs around, and we get a deeper look at the roles of an ant farm’s inhabitants. There are callout facts throughout the chapters, and an “In Your Newsfeed” section updates readers on breaking news in the field. For instance, did you know that researchers are looking into sticky caddis flies to develop new bandages for humans? You do now! Fact Files go further in-depth on insect biology; topics include how insects walk using three legs at a time, with the other three balancing, and special modifications some insects have for survival.

I’m always on the lookout for good, intermediate-level nonfiction and series nonfiction. This fits the bill nicely.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade

Westly: A Spider’s Tale is a good, middle-grade fable

westlyWestly: A Spider’s Tale, by Bryan Beus (Sept. 2015, Shadow Mountain), $15.99, ISBN: 9781629720685

Recommended for ages 9-13

In a contained garden of a glass chandelier, a young caterpillar is born into royalty. Destined to inherit the crown of the Monarch Butterfly kingdom, he is spoiled and naïve until he emerges from his cocoon – and he’s not exactly what he expected. Instead of a regal monarch, he’s a spider. Horrified by his appearance and afraid he’ll be ostracized from butterfly society, he runs away and lives down below, among the “dirt eaters” – the bugs that live below, on the ground. Not knowing he comes from the arrogant butterflies, they take him in and teach him how to live – but what Westly doesn’t realize is that he holds the key to uniting both societies.

Blending a graphic novel feel with a moral fable storytelling voice, Bryan Beus’ debut novel is a great read for middle graders. It’s kind of A Bug’s Life meets The Ugly Duckling, with a kind-hearted, unworldly main character who goes on a classic hero’s journey to grow up, mature, and come into the leader he’s meant to be. There are wonderfully classic elements here: the villain, the wise old sage, and the curmudgeon with the heart of gold being just a few touchstones that children and adults alike with recognize and embrace. Black and white sketches throughout the book hold the reader’s interest and have a comforting, classic feel.

 

This is a solid choice for school libraries and classrooms, especially for middle grade read-alouds and units on fairy tales and fables. Animal fiction always does well in my library, so I know this one will be happily received.

Bryan Beus is the winner of the Kirchoff/Wohlberg Award from The New York Society of Illustrators. His author website offers a sneak preview of Westly‘s first two chapters, plus an adorable webcomic called Peter and Li. Westly is Mr. Beus’ first book, but I’m hoping to see more.

Posted in Non-Fiction

Creepy Crawlies and the Scientific Method is perfect for educators, fun for kids!

creepy crawliesCreepy Crawlies and the Scientific Method, by Sally Kneidel (2015, Fulcrum Publishing), $24.95, ISBN: 9781938486326

Recommended for 16+

Who said science has to be boring? Kids love to play in the dirt, right? The dirt is FILLED WITH SCIENCE. Sally Kneidel brings a love of her subject – she’s got a Ph.D. in Biology and has written extensively on the environment, natural history, and teaching science to kids- to this updated version of her book, Creepy Crawlies and the Scientific Method. She explains that everyone can find a creepy crawly or two to learn more about, whether you live in a building or out in the middle of nowhere – it’s all about looking under a rock, or between some leaves.

More than finding and experimenting, Dr. Kneidel stresses environmental responsibility. She urges children and adults alike to respect nature, to be kind and humane, and to release our test subjects once we’ve observed them. Do no harm isn’t just part of a doctor’s oath; we all need to remember and take this mantra to heart. We share the planet with “creepy crawlies”, but what do we know about them? Dr. Kneidel knows a lot, and that’s why we need to listen to her.

Written more for adults that work with or enjoy kids in their lives, Creepy Crawlies and the Scientific Method has extensive profiles on various “critters”: bugs and insects – to give adults and children alike a background from which to work. She outlines the five steps of the scientific method: question, hypothesis, methods, result, and conclusion, and provides activities and questions that will stimulate fun and creative thinking among kids. Beautiful photographs and in-depth descriptions of various critters, including different appearances at different life stages, make this book a hugely valuable resource for any STEM library. Bring this book to your backyard, the park, or on vacation to learn science and have a great time doing it.

This book is absolutely going on my order lists for my teaching libraries! I can’t wait to hear the teachers talk about their field trips.

Dr. Kneidel’s webpage is a great additional resource, with photographs and blog entries on nature, the environment, and social responsibility. You can follow her on Twitter @sallykneidel.

Posted in Non-Fiction, Uncategorized

The Alphabet of Bugs is perfect for young nature buffs!

alphabet of bugsThe Alphabet of Bugs: An ABC Book, by Valerie Gates/Photography by Ann Cutting (June 2015, Sky Pony Press), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-63220-407-3

Recommended for ages 3+

Ready to go beyond ladybugs and butterflies? Then this is the book for you. Award-winning photographer Ann Cutting presents 26 different bugs in beautiful detail, with alphabetical alliteration by Emmy Award-winning art director Valerie Gates. From the Ailanthus Webworm Moth to the Zebra Longwing Butterfly, there are beautiful, detailed pictures with fun sentences that will kids will love to look at and giggle over again and again.

I’ve already ordered copies of this book for my libraries. The photos are amazing – so crisp and clear, with unbelievable detail. Each page has something exciting to see – a colorful page with a huge letter of the alphabet and a fun, alliterative sentence on the left side, and a full-page photo of an insect, against a colorful background to set off the picture, on the right. And what kids aren’t interested in bugs? The sentences make learning fun, and the book introduces kids to a world of insects they likely haven’t heard of before, expanding their world. There’s also a “Did You Know?” glossary with additional facts at the end of the book.

The Alphabet of Bugs hits stores on June 2. Visit Valerie Gates’ website to purchase a companion poster!