Friday, February 2, 2024

Arthropods and the People who Love Them!

 It’s Groundhog Day – and that means that we are Halfway To Spring! Soon there will be snowfleas hopping about, and sap moths – I can’t wait. But for now, while snow and ice make bug life hard, I’m sharing a couple of fun books. You get a two-fer today because my book basket is filling up faster than I can post reviews…

themes: nature, insects, arthropods

Is this a House for a Hermit Crab?
By Megan McDonald; illus. by Katherine Tillotson
40 pages; ages 4-8
‎ Neal Porter Books, 2024 (originally published 1990)

I became acquainted with hermit crabs while doing field research on Cocos Island, Costa Rica. I loved watching them toddle across the beach, carrying snail shells on their back. So when I had kids, of course I read them this book. Now, re-visioned with new artwork, it is just as fun to read as it was more than 30 years ago.

Hermit Crab was growing too big for the house on his back.

So up, onto the shore he climbs as he sets out to find a new house. Something that will give him room to grow and keep him safe from his enemies – especially the porcupine fish. Hermit Crab tries one improbable thing after another – a rock, a tin can… but before he can complete his quest, a wave washes him back into the sea where a hungry porcupine fish lurks!

What I like about this book: The language! Megan McDonald indulges our senses with words that evoke the sounds of the crab scuttling along the beach. Scritch-scratch, scritch-scratch. Then there’s the repetition of this line every time Crab sets off to find a new home: he stepped along the shore, by the sea, in the sand. And there is back matter. Megan explains more about hermit crabs and includes fun facts, such as how many legs they have and how they are best friends with sea anemones. And – whew! Hermit Crab manages to find a home in the nick of time so he doesn’t become a fish meal.

If you read my blog much, you know I am passionate about bugs! So I was eager to get my tarsi on this new-to-the-States book!

The Girl who Loves Bugs
By Lily Murray; illus. by Jenny Løvlie
32 pages; ages 4-8
‎Peachtree, 2024  

 Evie loves bugs! Fat bug and thin bugs and bugs that can fly, beautiful butterflies filling the sky.

She loves bugs SO much that she brings them inside. And then they … escape! On the day Great Gran and the family are coming to visit. What happens when they sit down for a big meal and find bugs on the plates and chairs? But ... instead of being sent to her room, Evie learns that Great Gran loves bugs, too. Together they come up with a marvelous solution for Evie’s desire to care for her mini-beasts.

What I like about this book: What a fun story for kids – and inspired by a real entomologist: Evelyn Cheesman. I like the way we discover that "loving bugs" is fine, as long as they are loved and admired in their own habitat (which is where they feel safest). I love the endpages filled with fanciful insects. And there is back matter! Lilly Murray tells us a bit more about Evelyn Cheesman and shares two fun buggy activities

Beyond the Books:

Some hermit crabs line up to trade shells with their friends. Here’s a video showing how hermit crabs switch shells. And some hermit crabs don’t even bother with shells. They use plastic bottle caps and other trash. You can find out more here.

Pretend you are a hermit crab seeking a safe place to snuggle. What sorts of things might you choose for your home? A sleeping bag roll? A large pillow? A cardboard box? Try it on for size…

Make a Bug Hotel for the beetles and other insects hanging out in your yard. Bug hotels can be pretty simple. Begin with a wooden frame (a CD crate works well) and fill with bundles of sticks, pine cones, leaves, moss, and lichens. This article from University of Vermont can help you get started.

Want to read more about Evelyn? Check out this review of Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist  I wrote just a few years ago.

Today we’re joining Perfect Picture Book Friday. It’s a wonderful gathering where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copies provided by the publishers.


  1. I love Megan's book, and am pleased to see it in a new edition. And the cover for The Girl Who Loved Bugs is beautiful. I hope it turns some bug haters into bug lovers, LOL.

  2. Oops, that comment was from me. Wordpress and other blog host platforms are now making me jump through extra hoops to comment on blogs. It's a little crazy-making, and sometimes I can't comment no matter which browser I use. Frustrating. In any case, great post!

    1. thanks, Jilanne. There are days I can't reply unless I'm on chrome - it's very frustrating.

  3. YEP! Crazy Wordpress. Sue, this is a great post and fun to see the book reissued with new illustrations! I like the cover of THE GIRL WHO LOVED BUGS - can't wait to read it. Thanks!