Lynn: Long-time readers of this blog will NOT surprised when I start out by saying that Ultimate Bug-Opedia: the Most Complete Bug Reference Ever (National Geographic 2013) was an enormous hit with the older members of our focus group. They have always been completely bug-obsessed and, at 10, the reading level and subject matter are ideal for them. They’ve been reading it ever since it came out the box and loving it. I’ve even thought about buying a second copy just to ease the squabbling over who gets it. But what I WAS surprised by was how much the 3-year-old member of the focus group would love it. I took the book with me to read in the car on our way to spend the weekend with Henry. When I got there he spotted it in my book bag and that was it. We spent the next 45 minutes carefully examining the first 2/3 of the book, page by page. Henry was totally absorbed by the pictures but he also wanted to know the bug’s name, what it ate and what it did and where it lived. The next morning, he brought me the book, crawled up in my lap and we finished it the moment he got up. No page skipping was allowed either.
This IS a gorgeous and fascinating book and we have all learned a lot. The first section provides general information about bugs. Each page discusses something specific such as definition, diversity, egg cases and pupae, migration, defenses, feeding, color patterns and much more. The next two sections closely examine 80 species of bugs in two groupings: simple metamorphosis and complete metamorphosis. Each of the 80 bugs is described and each has a list of specific facts provided at the bottom of the page that includes scientific name, food, size, habitat and range. Each two-page spread features gorgeous, magnified pictures in full glorious color.
This isn’t a field guide but rather a reference that provides information on these particular bugs and is also a wonderful browsing book to enjoy and admire. Clearly the audience is wide-ranging! Everyone from 3 up will be captivated by the exceptional photography. There is an excellent selection of bugs as well with bugs both familiar and exotic. There are monarch butterflies, grasshoppers, honeybees and ladybugs that children will recognize but there are also bombardier beetles, 22 inch Chan’s Megasticks and Tear-Drinking Moths. Some are beautiful and some are totally icky. What more could you ask?
Cindy: Bookends readers, are you sensing a theme, here? Lynn and her boys love reading about bugs. Me? Not as much. I am always drawn to all things related to water…especially in the winter when I long to be back on the boat or at the beach. Fortunately there was something for me in a recent National Geographic Kids shipment: First Big Book of the Ocean by Catherine D. Hughes (2013).
What a fun book this is for young readers. Divided into four chapters, one for each ocean, sea creatures are each given 2-4 pages with lots of photos, a uniform quick fact box, pop-up facts, and interactive questions for the reader. The Atlantic Ocean included one of my favorites, the manatee. If you ate 400 hamburgers a day that would be the equivalent of the 100 pounds of food a manatee consumes daily!
Sea stars are one of the animals featured in the Indian Ocean chapter. We might call them star fish, and they often do have 5 arms that make them resemble a star, but some feature up to forty arms!
Some of the animals will be quite familiar, others less so, but all of them will be popular reads. I can see Henry enjoying this one with his nana too, and it certainly would be fabulous for lower elementary classrooms. There are some Parent tips that would easily be useful in a classroom setting. This is part of the First Big Books series. Don’t miss the others. In fact, if you haven’t browsed the National Geographic Kids book releases recently, do so. We don’t have the time to blog them all but National Geographic Kids is doing a great job with new series and titles for all ages. And now I have to dive back into my ocean of reading.