The Beetle Book
written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins
2012 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Source: Orange County Public Library
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A question that is sometimes thrown out on sports radio talk shows goes something like this: "Who would you put on a insert sport Mount Rushmore?". The idea is to generate discussion about the greatest athletes in a particular sport. So I want to throw out this same question for authors who write about science topics for children. Who would you put on this particular Mount Rushmore? I would nominate Seymour Simon and Gail Gibbons. I would think a third nominee would be Steve Jenkins. He has consistently authored and illustrated entertaining science nonfiction for many years. His latest effort, The Beetle Book, joins a long line of books that contain fascinating facts and detailed collage artwork. The first fact is a doozy:
Line up every kind of plant and animal on Earth...
... and one of every four will be a beetle.
Throughout the rest of the book, Jenkins addresses different beetle topics that are both traditional and unique. As a teacher, I really appreciate Beetle Bits where a beetle is separated like jigsaw puzzle pieces and labeled with information about each piece. Beetle Senses examines different insects with extraordinary senses like the forest fire beetle having special heat-sensing spots on its body. This super bug can detect a fire from more than 20 miles away. A sugarcane beetle can hear sounds that are too high-pitched for human ears. This comes in handy when a bat comes flying by and the beetle wants to get away.
The Beetle Book is a book that your "nonfiction loving, can't wait to quote the facts, want to learn more, fascinated by anything that moves" students will enjoy. First, second, and third grade students have these qualities and will devour The Beetle Book. Now who is going to be the fourth face on this Mount Rushmore?