A blog for kids (and their parents) who love books, words, and dreaming big...
I'm so glad you stopped by! Welcome.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Books Gone Buggy

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net
Have you ever gone buggy?  Do you find bugs, insects, and other creepy-crawlies interesting, amazing... and maybe even cute?  If so, this post is for you!  (And if you're one of those people who can't stand anything with more than four legs, I suggest that you stop reading now, and come back tomorrow for a new post, LOL!)  

While I admit there are some many-legged creatures that give me the willies, there are many more that I enjoy watching and learning about.  I've long been a fan of butterflies and fireflies and dragonflies and praying mantises, among other things.  I love listening to the cicadas in summertime.  For three of my summers in college, I even worked for the Iowa State entomology department.  (Entomology is the study of insects.)  Among other duties, I "babysat" beetles similar to ladybugs, raising them from tiny eggs, through the larval stage and pupa stage, until they were full-grown adults, laying more eggs.

When my daughter Emmalie was younger, she was fascinated by bugs!  She collected ladybug toys and books about insects, had a favorite hat with pictures of various bugs on it, and even had a border of ladybugs, dragonflies, and butterflies painted all around her bedroom walls.  When her brothers came along, they quickly became interested in insects as well... and now Nick and Ben are even more buggy for bugs than their big sister!

We've read bunches of bug books, fiction and non-fiction, this summer.  I thought I'd share some of our favorites, starting with fictional picture books:

Some of our family's favorite bug books were written and illustrated by Eric Carle, including...

The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1969)

The Grouchy Ladybug (1977)

The Very Quiet Cricket (1990)

and The Very Lonely Firefly (1995)
I wrote about these and other Carle creations in another post, which you can see here.


Beetle Bop,
written and illustrated by Denise Fleming, 2007

A joy to look at and read aloud, this book is a colorful, rhyming celebration of beetles!


Bugtown Boogie,
written by Warren Hansen
and illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, 2008

On his way home one evening, a young boy discovers a Bugtown dance floor at the base of a tree, each insect boogieing down in its own special way.  With amusing illustrations and a catchy story in rhyme, this fun book will make you want to get up and do your own little dance!


Tiny Little Fly,
written by Michael Rosen
and illustrated by Kevin Waldron, 2010

This is a playful story about a fly who lands on several large animals, teasing them.  They try to catch him, but he just keeps flying away.  I love the rhyming text of this book, its humor, and Waldron's spirited illustrations!


Old Black Fly,
written by Jim Aylesworth
and illustrated by Stephen Gammell, 1992

This pesky fly is busy driving a family crazy all day long, getting into mischief from A to Z.  The wild, spattery paintings and the lively rhyming text combine to make this a very entertaining book.  (Spoiler alert: Old Black Fly gets swatted at the very end.  I just wanted to mention that in case you -- or a young bug-lover in your house -- would be upset by that, the way my Nick would be!)


Butterfly Boy,
written by Virginia Kroll
and illustrated by Gerardo Suzan, 1997

Emilio's grandfather can no longer speak, but when Emilio wheels him outside to watch the butterflies, his eyes light up. Emilio and Abuelo enjoy the butterflies all summer long, then bid them goodbye in the fall.  All winter Emilio reads books about them to his grandfather, and the two wait for the butterflies to return.  When Emilio learns that the insects are attracted to the color white, he realizes that's why they always gathered on the family's white garage.  But one day in spring, he finds that his father has repainted the garage blue. How will they welcome back their favorite creatures?  This is a heart-warming story, filled with brilliantly-colored illustrations.


These Bees Count!,
written by Alison Formento
and illustrated by Sarah Snow, 2012

Mr. Tate's class takes a field trip to Busy Bee Farm, where they learn all about honeybees and why they matter.  This is a counting book combined with a story, with quite a bit of information about bees for young children in it, as well.


I found the following middle grade buggy novel on our bookshelf at home and decided to check it out:

Incognito Mosquito: Private Insective,
written by E.A. Hass
and illustrated by Don Madden, 1982

This book is filled with silliness, puns to make you groan, buggy characters, and mysteries to solve.  When I looked it up online, I discovered that Hass wrote several other books about this intrepid detective, including Incognito Mosquito Flies Again! (1985), Incognito Mosquito Takes to the Air (1987), and Incognito Mosquito Makes History (1987).


For those who want to learn about bugs and insects, here are some nonfiction books that I recommend:

The Bug Book,
written by Kathy Kranking
and illustrated by Kristin Kest, 1998

I'm pretty sure that this is the book that started Emmalie's obsession with bugs!  I remember her asking me to read it over and over (and over) again.  This is a great book for the youngest of bug enthusiasts, providing detailed drawings and some basic -- but interesting -- facts about a few common bugs, like grasshoppers, fleas, and flies.


Garden Friends,
written by DK Publishing,
with photographs by many, 2003

This book for beginning readers features close-up photographs and simple text about the various insects and other critters found in a garden. 


Not a Buzz to Be Found,
written by Linda Glaser
and illustrated by Jaime Zollars, 2012

I found this delightful book at the library earlier this month, and just loved it!  Have you ever wondered where insects go or what they do in the winter?  This is the first book I've seen that focuses on that subject.  Glaser tells about the winter habits of twelve different bugs, using simple, rhyming text.  (A section at the end of the book provides more information about the various insects.)  I also loved the rich, charming illustrations by Zollars.


Caterpillars, Bugs, and Butterflies,
written by Mel Boring
and illustrated by Linda Garrow, 1996

Another of Emmalie's favorite books when she was younger, this one provides identification information for many caterpillars, butterflies, moths, and other bugs common to North America.  It also includes some educational activities and a few "scrapbook" pages at the back for kids to draw their own pictures of bugs they've found.


The Ultimate Bug Book,
written by Luise Woelflein
and illustrated by Wendy Smith-Griswold, 1993

Emmalie's grandparents gave her this entertaining, hands-on book when she was four or five years old.  The book only has 5 pages, but each one is chock-full of insect facts and some very cool pop-up models of various bugs.  There are flaps to open, paper wheels to turn -- even a scratch-and-sniff section for anyone brave enough to want a whiff of a stinkbug!


The Beetle Book,
written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins, 2012

Did you know that one out of every four living things on earth is a beetle?  Jenkins presents beautiful, intricate illustrations of these creatures -- along with a wealth of information about beetles' life cycles, communication, defenses, and other topics.


The Secret Lives of Backyard Bugs,
written and photographed by 
Judy Burris and Wayne Richards,
also photographed by Christina Richards, 2011

Introducing bugs common across the United States, this brother-sister team shares useful information and colorful, close-up photographs of each of the bugs' various life stages. They also give advice on raising moths and protecting bug habitats.


Biggest Bugs (life-size!),
written and photographed by George Beccaloni,
also with photos by others, 2010

This fun book showcases 35 of the biggest, longest, and heaviest bugs from around the world, with life-size pictures. (The photo of the world's longest insect, the Chan's megastick, even requires a fold-out page!)  Beccaloni includes maps to show where each of the bugs lives, and provides quite a bit of scientific information about the creatures, as well.


The Natural World of Bugs & Insects,
written and photographed by 
Ken and Rod Preston-Mafham,
also photographed by many others, 2000

This is a book for true insect enthusiasts!  While it was not written specifically for kids, my in-laws gave it to Emmalie when she was six, and she used to spend hours and hours poring through the photographs of this visual encyclopedia and reading the information given.  It used to be her very favorite book.  (You can tell from the top picture that it's been well-loved!)  It contains a 160-page introduction, explaining the differences between bugs and insects, mating, defense, life cycles, etc., and then goes on to tell about the bugs and insects in different areas around the world.  The large, vibrant photos give readers the chance to study these creatures up close.


Have you read any of the books above?  If so, what did you think?  Do you have any other favorite books about bugs? Our family is always happy to hear about new ones!


  1. Thank you for posting information about our book, The Secret Lives of Backyard Bugs! We just released a new book full of activities and projects for kids and parents called, Nature's Notes. We love to answer buggy questions on our website at ButterflyNature.com
    - Judy Burris and Wayne Richards -

  2. Ms. Burris, thank you for the information about your new book and website! They sound like things our nature-loving family would enjoy ~ I will have to check them out! :)