Perfect Picture Book Friday: Bug Shots

Author: Alexandra Siy
Illustrator: Dennis Kunkel
Publication Info: Holiday House, 2011
Intended audience: Ages 6 to 10
Genre: nonfiction, picture book
Themes/topics: science, nature, insects
Opening and synopsis: ”Bugs bite. Some drink blood. Bugs rob. They steal food from gardens and fields. Bugs kill — mostly each other, but also plants, animals, even people sometimes. Bugs destroy. They eat houses, clothes, and furniture. Bugs bug. (Is bugging a crime?)”
In her latest book, Siy invites children to become Fellow Bug Investigator (FBI) agents, surveying page after page of bug “mug shots” (photomicrographs) and learning more about them via their “rap sheets.” Thus informed, Siy encourages  children to deliver a verdict: are bugs good, bad or just plain bugly?
Why I like this book: Siy is one of my favorite nonfiction science writers for children. We love her Cars on Mars book, which chronicled the adventures of Spirit and Opportunity as they roved the Red Planet. She has a snappy, engaging style that ensures her subjects are never boring. With that said, this book would be nothing without Kunkel’s photomicrographs — essentially colorized pictures taken using a scanning electron microscope. Imagine a honeycomb-like grasshopper exoskeleton magnified more than 3000 times. Picture the hairs on a water strider’s legs magnified 2100 times, so you can truly understand how it walks on water. Even my three-year-old wants me to read him this book because the pictures captivate him.
Resources: This would be a great addition to any unit on bugs. Teachers and homeschoolers also can reserve time on the University of Illinois’s BugScope so kids can control the scanning electron microscope on their own while taking a close up look at the bugs they captured.
At home w collect our own bugs and look at them using our 99-cent magnifying glasses (thank you 99 Cent Store). I also bought a bug catcher at Target for a couple of dollars a few weeks ago. This can provide endless hours of entertainment on a nice spring day. A friend introduced me to Insect Lore a wonderful Web sit chock full of fun bug products. We just ordered painted lady larvae. Finally, Penn State has a list of fun bug  sites for kids….here.

Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site.
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26 responses to “Perfect Picture Book Friday: Bug Shots

  1. Sounds fun and interesting. We like bugs at my house and even have an insect collection that the kids and I have collected over the years. It’s displayed in a shadow box picture frame on a red felt background.

  2. I confess that I am not a big bug fan (except for maybe cute anthropomorphized lady bugs :)) although I do admire the way ants work, and bees are fascinating, and oh yeah, fireflies are nice. In spite of my bug dislike though, this looks like a really interesting book and I bet kids would love it – I know my son would have! I’m glad to be adding such a well-written informative book to our non-fiction collection. Thanks, Kirsten!

    • I only love bugs when they don’t live in my house (unless they are in their own enclosed habitat). The boys want an indoor ant habitat. I am resisting for now.

  3. Ha! Ha! Love the title of the book — I’d read it just because of the titel. Sounds like a great book for kids this summer. I was looking at a bug collecting cage in the toy store and wondering about giving it to my great granddaughter. I liked to collect some bugs — not all. This book would be a great addition to such a gift. Thanks for sharing! Good choice for our PPB. Boys will definitely love this.

  4. I like the voice of this book, matches great with the pictures. They kind of do look scary. I can see boys loving this book, my girls not so much. I am partial to books that teach kids something in a fun, exciting way. Adding it to my TBR list.

    • I have to admit, before I had boys I didn’t read much about bugs or dinosaurs. But, I do appreciate that I’m getting to learn about new things by having my two “very boy” boys.

  5. I love the photos (although they do creep me out a bit) and it sounds like a great book for bug facts. There are more of them than there are of us! Thanks, Kirsten.

  6. Robbing, biting, blood-drinking bugs? Yeah, I would say she keeps it interesting 🙂

    My son was always a huge non-fiction PB fan, and would have loved this. He has since moved on to things like Harry Potter, but every once in a while I see him with his nose in a NF selection. Thanks for the recommendation!

  7. Great choice, Kirsten! I used to spend hours, watching ants. 🙂 I know that a lot of kids are fascinated with bugs…so I’m sure they would love this book. The resources and activities you listed are great…good for you with the magnifying glasses and bug catcher!!!!

  8. Hi Kirsten! I’m so happy to have been led to so many fabulous sites including yours through Susanna’s Perfect Picture Book Friday! 🙂 This is not the first time that I’ve seen a lovely review of this book, since we also join Nonfiction Monday where this book has been featured – it seems to be universally loved! Have to check it out myself. Thanks for including the video clip too!

    • Susanna’s site is a treasure trove of resources. And I’ve seen Nonfiction Monday too. Anastasia has a wonderful site. It’s wonderful to have so many people reviewing children’s nonfiction.

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