Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Insects Biggest! Littlest!

Boyds Mills
Sandra Markle; Photographs by Dr. Simon Pollard

Now that the weather is warming up here in Michigan, we can get outside and inspect the wildlife. With young children, "wildlife" to us primarily means insects. The newest in the Sandra Markle Biggest! Littest! series is our new favorite insightful guide to aphids, butterflies, weevils, dragonflies, moths and more.

I have never been much of a non-fiction reader myself, but seeing my children soak up this information in an amazing fashion makes me a convert. It's amazing to me how intently they listen, their brains absorbing each tiny detail, tucking away the facts, only to regurgitate them at some later date. And oh, the details given here! Like the title implies, this book affords us a close look at some of the biggest and smallest insects on Earth.

Twenty different insects of all shapes and sizes are showcased. They range greatly in size from the Minute Pirate Bug at 2 millimeters, up to the Giant Stick Insect, which can grow to be 22 inches. Why the size variance? Simply put, some bugs need to be big and some fare better with smaller bodies. The Raja Brooke Birdwing Butterfly pictured below has a wing span of nearly a foot. Scientists believe the big wings help mates find each other. On the flip side, small stature works for the Western Pygmy Blue Butterfly, who at 1/2 inch wide are less likely to be seen by predators.

Readers learn about how smaller sized insects can team up to form a larger. more powerful group, such as Carpenter Ants and Honeybees. We get a detailed description of how insects grow larger via life stages, and a great explanation on molting. This is a wonderfully informative, fascinating book for any child interested in the business of insects. Dr. Simon Pollard does his part by providing amazing photos - a great show of color and tiny details.

Sandra Markle is no stranger to non-fiction animal books. Others in her Biggest! Littlest! series include:


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