Tuesday, October 17, 2006


HEY THERE, STINK BUG! by Leslie Bulion, illustrated by Leslie Evans (Charlesbridge)
The author invites readers to "take a closer look," and children will delight in doing so with this innovative book of insects that combines genres. Fans of JOYFUL NOISE by Paul Fleischman, the Newbery-award winning book that explores the life of bugs in two alternating voices, will appreciate the poetic bend to this new, nifty little tome. Individual types of bugs are each given a lyrical testimony in the form of haiku, concrete poems, tankas and clerihews among others, all forms described deftly in a handy "poetry notes" section at the back of the book. The verse is cunning, with a kid-friendly edge (Bombardier bombardier bombardier beetle,/slow on the wing but thinks fast on its feetle/blasting poor predators into retreatle,/with boiling hot acid it aims from its seatle."), with vocabulary that doesn't dumb anything down, but rather supports its readership with a clear glossary. This buggy book continues to go above and beyond; each bug also gets a descriptive non-fiction treatment, with an interesting factual explanation of the insect following each poem. Great for integrating into science and language arts, this is a book that will make you say, "Wow, this is a book that can make learning fun!" A great choice for classroom collections and it will get a lot of use in a thematic unit. Outside of school, it will make an enthusiast out of any reader...possibly go a little buggy, as they say. (7 and up)

Also of interest:
BUTTERLY EYES AND OTHER SECRETS OF THE MEADOW by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes (Houghton Mifflin) Beautiful naturalistic scratchboard illustrations grace the latest "look at the world" poems by the award-winning author of SONG OF THE WATER BOATMAN.
(7 and up)

TROUBLE IN BUGLAND by WIlliam Kotzwinkle (Godine) Who knew the author of WALTER THE FARTING DOG, much maligned for its poop-talk, could write a book so erudite, so marvelous, so compelling, a golden glowing gem on the shelves of children's literature? It's true. One of my all-time favorite uper-grade read-alouds is this clever collection of "Inspector Mantis Mysteries," beautifully written stories from a bug's eye view, inspired by Sherlock Holmes. (10 and up)

BUNDLE AT BLACKTHORPE HEATH by Mark Copeland (Houghton Mifflin) Step right up to the insect circus! When the grandson of the circus's owner gets a spyglass and uncovers a nefarious conspiracy in the world of insects, he needs all of the buggy friends he can count on. Beautiful, moody line illustrations add a lot to an already marvelous read-aloud. A bit of a sleeper, this very British book deserves a lot more buzz... it's a delightful and imaginative premise. (8 and up)

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