Friday, April 1, 2022

Busy Bugs are All Around You

Hustle Bustle Bugs 
by Catherine Bailey; illus. by Lauren Eldridge 
40 pages; ages 4-8
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2022

theme: insects, nature, 

Secret cities buzz and bustle /with itty-bitty hard-work hustle.

In rhyming couplets, Catherine Bailey shows bugs busy at work. Ants build a colony. Ladybugs on pest patrol. Dung beetles rolling … yeah, dung. Butterflies and bees, fireflies and caterpillars… every bug has a job to do, even if it’s a cricket crooning a tune to the moon.

What I like about this book: There is back matter! Kids – and parents – will want to know more about the insects introduced in the pages. So Catherine provides Buggy Facts, and highlights the best bits that make great sharing at the lunch table: did you know grasshoppers have ears on their bellies?

I also like the illustrations. They look like a mix of toys, like plastic insects, and landscapes.

Lauren: Yeah, but I didn’t use any toys. I made everything by hand.

Turns out that Lauren tells all about how she did the illustrations in her “Note from the Artist” at the back of the book. Because the book is about exploring the environment, she decided to incorporate as many things from the natural environment as she could: dried flowers, sticks, dirt, grass. 

me: But what about the ants and beetles and butterflies?

Lauren explains that, too. She used wire, epoxy putty, tinfoil, polymer clay, mini foam footballs, and vellum to construct the bugs. Except for the butterfly wings, she says. For those, she used yupo paper and alcohol inks. 

I’ve played around with yupo paper and alcohol inks, and it is a lot of fun! You can get some nice stained-glass effects.

To pull it all together, Lauren began by photographing the settings. Then she photographed the bugs and the human characters, and pieced several photos together to create each scene.

Usually at this point I would ask the author a question. But Catherine will be over at the GROG blog on the 20th to talk about bugs and how she came to write this book. Catch her there...

Beyond the Books:

Where do the bugs hang out in your neighborhood? Look for spider webs, ant mounds, caterpillar tents and other evidence of bug homes in your backyard or at a local park. Be careful if you find a wasp nest – wasps have sharp stingers and some of them are not averse to using them.

Spend time watching a bug. If there are ants in a line, where are they going? What are they doing? I once watched a crew of ants drag a large, dead butterfly home. Supper maybe?

Make your own Busy Bug illustration. Use clay and things from the recycling bin ( tinfoil, plastic containers) to construct a bug. Pipe cleaners come in handy – so do toothpicks and beads, grapes, raisins, tissue paper, and heavy paper. Once you’ve built a bug or two, create a scene with grass and pebbles or soil, and take a photo.

Catherine Bailey is a member of #STEAMTeam2022. You can find out more about her at her website.

Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Reviewed from a pdf provided by the author.


  1. Wow! I can't begin to imagine the hours and hours and hours this took to pull the illustrations together. Amazing!

  2. Oh good, a book on bugs. I have a great nephew obsessed with bugs and insects. Perfect for his upcoming birthday! The illustrations are amazing.

  3. So cool to learn how she created the illustrations! Thanks Sue and for giving us a heads up to her upcoming GROG post!

  4. Ooooh. I can't wait to see this book. Thanks for telling me about me. The artwork looks amazing.

  5. Combining these illos and rhyme is fantastic!