Friday, April 9, 2021

Itsy-Bitsy Spiders....

April is national poetry month, so it’s only appropriate that I feature a book written in poetry. Or maybe it’s required… I seem to have misplaced my “rules for reviewing kid’s books”. And because I love critters with multiple jointed appendages, I present:

Spi-ku: A Clutter of Short Verse on Eight Legs
by Leslie Bulion; illus. by Robert Meganck 
48 pages; ages 8-12 
Peachtree Publishing Company, 2021  

“From leafy treetop to forest floor …” and places in between and beyond, We Spy Spiders! Some are busy weaving webs, others riding silk balloons through the air, and yet others on the prowl. There are happy spiders, diving spiders, dancing spiders, and social spiders. 

So Many Spiders to love! Each spread features poems and information about the spiders. Things like how they kill and digest their prey, engage in foolery – and even how they become prey themselves. (I have not eaten any spiders so I cannot speak to how they taste…)

Leslie includes lots of wonderful Back Matter (and you know how I love back matter!). There’s a glossary, some spider identification notes and suggestions for further study. She also includes an activity: how to hunt for spiders at night. And she provides some notes on the poetic forms she uses. Here are four she highlights, with links so you can try writing some poems about spiders – or anything you want to write about – yourself:
A couple weeks ago Leslie and a bunch of us hung out at the GROG Blog to talk about why we love bugs. You can read what she said here. And you can learn more about Leslie and the fun books she writes at her website here.

Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Explore Outdoors ~ Flowers!


I love how daffodils look like sunbursts popping out of our front yard. When you get close enough to look at them face-to-face, you realize they have a sunny personality as well!

Take a close look at an early spring flower this week. What do you notice? What sort of personality does your flower exude?

Friday, April 2, 2021

Build Your Own Bug!


How to Build an Insect 
by Roberta Gibson; illus. by Anne Lambelet 
32 pages; ages 5-9
Millbrook Press, 2021 

theme: nature, insects, art

Let’s build an insect. Where should we start?

That is a good question! And entomologist, Roberta Gibson starts at a most logical place: the head. After all, every insect needs a head…and then a thorax (like your chest) … and then an abdomen. Instead of a skeleton like us, insects wear their skeletons on the outside, like armor. After we get the body parts put together, it’s time to add the fun stuff: wings, legs, mouthparts, and eyes.

What I like about this book: Page-by-page, as we put an insect together, Roberta adds fun details. Like special feet that allow an insect to walk upside down, or eye types, or details about antennae. And the illustrations are spot-on! Of course there’s back matter (and you know by now that’s the first thing I look for)! Roberta provides more details about insect body parts and a STEAM activity.

I’ve known Roberta for a number of years; we both review STEM books and are passionate about insects. Turns out we have both done our share of ant-watching, and she has a blog devoted entirely to ants, appropriately named Wild About Ants.

So I had to ask her One Question … OK, two:

me: What has insect-watching taught you about life or writing?

Roberta: Probably the best lesson I’ve learned from insects is that they don’t look like us or act like us, but we should appreciate them. They are unusual, and beautiful, and – under a microscope – particularly amazing. Magnified, they look like art with their colors, designs, and textures.

me: So what inspired a book about building your own insect?

Roberta: My entomology professor would sometimes prank us by creating a “franken-insect” for us to identify on a test. He once glued a praying mantis head on a beetle’s body. I’ve built my own share of insects from recycled materials and even from fruit. I hope my book will encourage readers to use their creativity.

To find out more about how Roberta wrote her book, check out this post on “First Draft to Final Book”
And then hop over to the GROG Blog where she and I and a bunch of other arthropod-loving writers chat about why we love to write about bugs.

Beyond the Books:

Fold a milkweed bug . Instructions for folding an origami (or mostly origami) bug here.

Build a Bug. You'll find tons of insect craft ideas from paper-chain caterpillars to clothespin bugs here. Just ignore the snail – snails aren’t insects! 

For a closer look at insects, you need a bug box. You can make one from recycled containers with lids (yogurt or cottage-cheese containers, clear plastic bottles, carboard or plastic milk cartons). Here’s the instructions. They list “wire mesh” – but think: old window screen instead. You can substitute netting if you have that. 

Make your own edible insect! Here’s a few ideas for using fruits and veggies to make bug-snacks.

Roberta is a member of #STEAMTeam2021. You can find out more about her at her website.  She's written a few scientific papers - you can find them here.

Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy provided by the publisher

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Explore Outdoors ~ Spring Scavenger Hunt

Let's go on a Spring Scavenger Hunt. Find or Do the following:

smell grass

find a flower

find a green leaf

listen to a bird call

watch a squirrel

follow a bee

hear peepers (or other frogs)

find a butterfly or moth

look for a caterpillar

sounds of geese flying north

smell the earth

listen to the rain 

Feel free to add your own Signs of Spring to this list. Have Fun!