Lynn: The weather this summer really has been amazing. But even those of us in beautiful, temperate West Michigan will acknowledge there exists the occasional fly in the ointment—well, flies anyway, ointment or not. In the interest of presenting all sides of summer, the good and the not-so-good, here are some books that feature that much-maligned creature, the fly. They weren’t hard to find—in the pictures books Cindy and I were sent this summer, flies made a very strong showing.
Cindy: Pest? Oh, Lynn, you need to read, I, Fly: The Buzz about Flies and How Awesome They Are (2015) by Bridget Heos. When Fly buzzes into an elementary classroom, he is dismayed to learn that the students are studying butterflies . . . again.
“Well, guess who else metamorphoses,
can fly, and is beautiful
(at least according to my mother).”
Fly goes on to explain his life cycle. Maggots, anyone? “Adorable,” say his parents. Fly explains how his wings make a buzzing sound that changes pitch depending on his speed. This prompts another cute quip:
“Maybe if your science teacher won’t let you study me,
your music teacher will.”
The hearty dose of science is presented in a fun way, with bright, comic illustrations by Jennifer Plecas that will engage young readers. Back matter in the form of a bibliography, illustrated glossary, and pictures of contributing experts adds to the study value. Elementary teachers will be buzzing about this one—maybe so much that flies will be included in the butterfly unit!
Super Fly: The World’s Smallest Superhero (2015) by Todd Doodler promotes the fly in heroic fashion. This unassuming, fourth-grade housefly becomes Super Fly by eating a slice of key lime pie and taking on the school bully, Cornelius C. Roach. The delivery is delightful. Young chapter-book readers will be giggling and ewwww-ing as they devour this. Thank you, Super Fly!
Lynn: The fly in Karl Newsom Edwards’ beginning reader, Fly (2015), is so cute, he’d be welcome at a picnic. Actually, all the insects in this sweet book are cute, from the pink, wiggly worm, to the purple caterpillar. Each page compares the things another insect can do—wiggle, jump, roll, march—to what the fly can do. The fly tries his best to mimic each movement but he just can’t. Finally, a butterfly steps in, and the fly discovers exactly what action works for him. Adorable illustrations and simple text make this fun for the youngest of readers. Following the story are Bug Facts that include a picture of each bug as well as its corresponding action word from the book.
Petr Horácek’s The Fly (2015) features a much more accurate depiction of the pest—this fly knows people don’t like having him in the house. Fly tells readers about himself as he dodges the “FLAP” of a flyswatter. Two elements in particular make this book wonderfully designed for young readers: large, simple illustrations, and interesting perspectives, like the upside down fly’s-eye view of the breakfast table and the page-sized fly swatter. Cleverly cut action pages allow readers to take a swat at poor Fly. Though we may understand him better by the end of the story, this is one fly we still won’t invite for sandwiches. I especially like the extra-thick pages of this book, designed to withstand little hands.
Closing out our fly-filled post is Astrid the Fly (2015) by Maria Jönsson, a Swedish author making her American debut. Astrid is an adorable little fly who lives behind the couch with her large family—43 baby fly brothers and sisters which she sometimes has to fly-sit. Astrid would much rather be exploring the fascinating place she lives even though her Aunt Ally tells her scary tales of the dangers lurking outside their home, like the Big Bang and the Horrible Inhaling Machine. Astrid likes to eat too; sweet, wet things (juice); red, sticky things (jelly); soft, brown things (pastry); but especially, danish salami! One time, Astrid ate so much, she fell asleep beside a salami and woke up in the refrigerator. She managed to escape, vowing to only eat green things after that.
Jönsson’s lively ink and watercolor illustrations provide the visual clues to the mysteries Astrid is describing. Preschoolers will love the household item jokes. Jönsson’s use of warm colors makes Astrid a fly you’d definitely enjoy having around.