A Lesson in Science from Jay Hosler’s Last of the SandWalkers

BookendsLynn: Move over Charles Darwin—Lucy is here in Last of the SandWalkers (2015), a story of a perilous but assumption-shattering scientific expedition. Young scientist Lucy leads her courageous band out into the wilderness with an important question: Is there life beyond their oasis home, New Coleopolis? The story of their exploration is a riveting tale of danger, discovery, betrayal, and dedication…as experienced by a band of beetles. Yes, that’s right—beetles, the insect variety. These are beetles like we’ve never seen them before, with a complex civilization that looks a lot like our own and includes professional rivalries, an authoritarian religion, innovative inventions and technologies, and tightly knit family groups. I was instantly immersed in this miniature world depicted in Jay Hosler’s exuberant graphic novel. And what a story! Lucy’s little band is sabotaged by Professor Owen, the head of the science ministry that funded the expedition. Desperate to maintain the status quo, this double-dealing coleoptera abandons the group in the desert, taking their supplies and equipment with him. But never fear—as Lucy says, “It is the Age of Elytra” and right will win in the end.

I can’t tell you how happy I am that
Velvet Worms aren’t of a size to imperil us!

If yoSandwalkersu can bond with beetles, I certainly bonded with Hosler’s thoroughly engaging characters from baseball-hat-wearing Lucy to practical-joke-loving Raef. Professor Owen is a wonderfully despicable villain and some of the dangerous natives encountered along the way are totally memorable. I can’t tell you how happy I am that Velvet Worms aren’t of a size to imperil us!

And then there is the science. Entymologist Hosler provides a wealth of scientific information along with the adventure. I’m here to tell you that this is a terrific way to learn science! Go ahead—ask me a question about bombardier beetles! Hosler’s enthusiasm is contagious, especially as his sense of humor underlies it all. And then there are the Annotations, which are absolutely as much fun as the book.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

1 Comment on "A Lesson in Science from Jay Hosler’s Last of the SandWalkers"

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  1. hosler@juniata.edu' Jay Hosler says:

    Thanks so much for these kind words. I share your relief about the relative size of velvet worms!

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