Friday, July 9, 2010

Bugs and Bugsicles

Amy S. Hansen; Illustrations by Robert C. Kray

The inside flap of this book begins "Every fall, insects disappear.  Where do they go?"  I have no idea.  Until this book reached my hands, I realized that I've never actually stopped to think about this.  I know birds migrate, bears hibernate and mice apparently prefer to spend the winter in our basement. But the ants, bees and others ... just seem to magically materialize each spring.  Maybe they are the sort of thing that you don't really miss until they aren't there.

I like that this book addresses a mystery of nature that many of us haven't given a second thought to.  It turns out that the insects get ready in different ways.  Some hide, some fly away, some make warm homes while others lay eggs and die.  We should have expected that there is never an easy answer with nature.

The praying mantis cannot survive winter's chill, but her offspring can with special protection that their mama provides.  Her egg sack hardens to a thickness of cardboard, allowing her eggs to withstand the season. Similarly, field crickets dig holes and lay their eggs safely underground, but they will not survive to meet their young.  Ladybugs fare slightly better, resting in a kind of hibernation called diapause, where their breathing slows and they don't eat or drink. They may be slowed down, but at least the adults survive the winter! Even more interesting are the honeybees, who huddle together and keep themselves alive with constant shivering.  These are just a handful of insects featured - the book also covers dragonflies, ants, monarch butterflies and woolly bear caterpillars.

I love how this book unveils a little mystery that most of us probably take for granted. Each insect has its own full page layout, with large color illustrations.  The result is an eye-catching and eye-opening book.  After you have finished reading, I think you'll find yourself noticing more of the tiny wildlife while out in the yard this summer. You may find yourself thinking "Where will they go?" Here in icy Michigan, their best bet would be to find some retirees and hop a ride to Florida, but the book doesn't mention that scenario.
Review copy provided by Boyds Mills Press.

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