Friday, April 13, 2018

Leaf Litter Critters and Doodlebugs

Fun new books about bugs illustrate today's themes: insects, nature, imagination.

Leaf Litter Critters
by Leslie Bulion; illus. by Robert Meganck
48 pages; ages 8-12
Peachtree Publishers, 2018

Between soil's grains of weathered rock.
Beneath its veiny leaves in scraps,
Amid its ribs of rotting sticks,
Soil's litter critters find the gaps.

 Welcome to the brown food web - banquet table for decomposers of all classes (and orders). From bacteria to beetles these poems get down and dirty about how dead stuff gets recycled into compost.

What I like about this book: Everything, from end pages to back matter. There are cool new words scattered about to describe the work of decomposers: shredding, chewing, humus-pooing... totally fun to read out loud! Every spread has science notes (sidebars) that go into detail about such things as duff, number of nematodes in soil, how fungi eat, pseudoscorpions - I really like the pseudoscorpions! Each poem not only focuses on a different litter critter, but also highlights a different style of poetry - which is explained in detail in back matter. There are linked cinquain, traditional stanzas, free verse, tanka, and more.

I love the back matter - a glossary, poetry notes, and hands-on field explorations. And there's a fun comparison of sizes of the critters, some compared to an earthworm and others compared to the head of a pin. So one could actually determine how many tardigrades can dance on the pin-head. And I love the end pages, with roly-poly pillbugs and sowbugs that march right onto the title page. What fun!.

 Do Doodlebugs Doodle? Amazing Insect Facts
by Corinne Demas and Artemis Roehrig; illus. By Ellen Shi
32 pages; ages 4-9
Persnickety Press (CLO), 2018

Do dragonflies breathe fire?

No, but they do have a long toothed jaw that can capture prey. Written in Q & A style, this book explores some of the questions kids might ask upon hearing an insect's name.

Do horseflies gallop? Do stink bugs take baths? Do yellowjackets wear yellow jackets? The response to each question is "no" - until we get to doodlebugs. Turns out they do doodle!

What I like about this book: It's fun and funny. And there's back matter! Each insect gets a bit more up-close-and-personal attention.

Beyond the Books: 
Pick up a pencil and doodle. You know you want to!

Go on a leaf litter field trip. All you need is a place where leaves have collected over a season or two, and a few other things. Here's a great list of stuff you'll need and how to find the litter critters.

Write a haiku about one of the litter critters you find - or to the leaf litter itself. Here's how.

 Today we're joining the STEM Friday roundup - and we're also joining others over at Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copies provided by publishers.


  1. I was able to reserve Leaf Litter Critters from my library, but unfortunately your second book, Do Doodlebugs Doodle? isn't in the system. I'll see if I can get a copy at the bookstore. Both books look fantastic.

  2. I'd enjoy Leaf, Litter Critters -- catchy title. And I know some youth who would too. Very descriptive and great illustrations. And, I know kids would love the insect facts of the Doodle Bugs book! Great picks today!

  3. Thanks for telling me about these. Both sound great.